Television Review – Suits 9.05 “If The Shoe Fits” Welcome back Mike……well, sort of….

So, we’ve reached the midway point of the final season of Suits. How on earth are we here so soon?! Going in to 9.05 and there was one element that was the focus – the return of Mike Ross! The idea of the show ending without him seemed unthinkable. But…..was his return worth the wait? That’s a different question (more below).

If The Shoe Fits was an episode that allowed all of the show’s central characters to have a significant slice of the storylines and as with many Suits episodes, the title played on a number of levels, from direct fairytale (albeit a dirty one), to a bigger question about the personalities of our gang. Behaviour that used to “fit” certain characters, was, this week, being tested out by others, not always for the better, while others were questioning whether their characters actually fitted them anymore. There was certainly lots to think about.

So……..let’s get in to this!

I’ve missed you Mike! Actually………maybe not……

That pretty much sums up my current thoughts on Mike Ross this week. Don’t misunderstand me, I love Patrick J. Adams and having him back on Suits is fantastic, but only to a certain extent, because by the end of 9.05, I was happily waving Mike off again. Need help packing Mike? Let me call you a cab. The reason? Well, let’s start with all the great elements of having Mike back, before I get to the grumbles.

First and foremost, I’ve missed the Marvey bromance so much! The relationship between Harvey and Mike has always been a series highlight and indeed shaped the show from the start and Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams always clearly enjoy playing off each other on screen. It was fun to see that again and it made me feel incredibly nostalgic, which seems appropriate during the final season. The opening scene was particularly lovely. “The lock was broken. Your brain is broken.” I’ve missed their banter and having them back, as if no time has passed, was a joy (I did miss the movie quotes though). I would have loved a little more chat about the Darvey romance too. Mike was the lead cheerleader after all!

I also agree with the writers that having Mike simply come back for a visit with no purpose wouldn’t have been very dramatic and watching him and Harvey come up against one another is always fun. But, the Mike Ross that arrived this week seemed to be wanting to try on daddy’s clothes and see if they fitted. Mike has never seemed to want to be Harvey. He admired Harvey and wanted to learn from him, but he was always his own person. Yet, the way he swaggered in and threw his weight around, felt very much like the son trying to beat the father and it didn’t feel quite right for the character of Mike. Sure, he’s driven and passionate, but he came off as arrogant and, to quote Samantha, a douche.

The way he dismissed Samantha from the start particularly grated on me. I’ve seen first hand so many times women are disregarded like this by men at work and seeing Mike so casually assume she was beneath him in terms of ability was annoying. Plus, it’s fine having him come all the way back to take on Harvey. I get that. They were competitive to some extent, but to spend ages planning how to get the better of your old friend and mentor just to get a win? Again, it didn’t feel like the Mike we knew.

And then there was how things were left between him and Harvey. This new emotionally intelligent Harvey Specter is not obsessed with winning all the time and having been beaten fair and square, he took the defeat with grace. Heck, when he thought he’d won, he still prioritised going to Mike to make sure they were “still good.” Again, the friendship mattered more than the business to him. Yet, on Mike discovering Samantha had beaten him (albeit in a shady way), he took it out on Harvey! Sorry Mike, but Harvey did nothing wrong. You lost to a woman you stupidly dismissed and Harvey simply wasn’t prepared to screw her over to help you out. That’s fair! You wanted to be on opposing teams. You can’t suddenly expect him to switch sides when it suits you! The “You’ve lost yourself, Harvey” line really annoyed me. That shoe certainly fit Mike by the end of 9.05, not Harvey Specter.

Having said that, it was great drama to watch, but what could have made it more enjoyable for me? If Donna had gone and told him he was in the wrong (although it was nice to see a scene between Mike and Louis), or if Mike had actually realised Louis was right and that leaving in a huff, without making things right with someone so important to him, was just out of character. Where’s Rachel when you need her?!

I think the only reasons I’m not more disappointed by how this storyline ended is that it was lovely to have Patrick J. Adams back and because I already know he has been filming for the finale, so at least I know that the last time we have them together is not going to be this argument. Hopefully when we see you again Mike, you’re acting like yourself and not trying to channel a version of Harvey that doesn’t exist anymore.

…..Talking of Harvey……….

The week where Harvey Specter didn’t get anything he wanted

Photo: Shane Mahood/USA Network

Poor Harvey. He’s come so far emotionally in recent episodes and is clearly ridiculously happy with where he is in his life now (and who he is sharing it with). Yet, 9.05 saw him not getting anything he wanted once that first scotch with Mike was finished. His night in with Donna and a pizza watching his favourite TV show? Sorry, Harvey. Not tonight. Being able to trust one of his partners to not put them / the firm at risk under the scrutiny of Faye Richardson? Nope, no luck there either. How about a wine and cheese night with your girlfriend and your adopted son? Yeah, sorry Harvey. That’s off the table too.

Seeing Harvey so angry with Samantha on hearing what she’d done and then watching him still have her back was lovely and very him, as was him immediately going to tell her what he thought of her actions. He’s loyal to his team after all. Yet, I felt so sad for him when his clear excitement at spending the evening with Donna and Mike (he sounded like an excited child when Mike arrived) quickly fizzled out and ended in disaster. You were mean, Mike Ross! I can only hope Donna cheered him up after the credits rolled.

…….Talking of Donna and Darvey……

Donna was back to supporting everyone else this week

Photo: Shane Mahood/USA Network

Recent episodes have more heavily focussed on Darvey and Donna too (look at last week when the partners marched together to defend her), so this week it was perhaps understandable that both of these aspects took a slight backseat. We were still able to enjoy seeing Donna trying to recreate her fun nights out with Rachel, before realising that’s not actually what Katrina needed (I did love her reaction to Katrina downing that shot too!). We also saw her defend Harvey to Mike, albeit that was far too brief for my liking and it would have been nice for her to say more then, or afterwards.

As for Darvey, 9.05 was light on the most recent Suits romance, but that was okay with me. What we did get to see added further layers of authenticity to their relationship. Chatting on the phone about just enjoying a night in, sharing their favourite, secret television pleasures, seeing how Harvey already knows the weird pizza toppings she likes and then seeing true married couple behaviour, as they prepared for their night with Mike, bickering playfully about who did the shopping! Sure, it would have been nice to see a little more physical affection, but what we are getting between these two is so much fun and continues to truly settle them in to what will be their future once we say goodbye. That scene seeing them bickering about groceries? That’s what we can picture them doing for the next 40+ years!

Katrina Bennett steals the show!

I’ve mentioned in previous weeks how much I’ve enjoyed seeing more of Katrina and this week Amanda Schull really stole the show! I was not a fan of the direction they chose to take Katrina’s friendship with Brian and I certainly don’t want that to be revisited (she can do better), but the scene in which she leaves the voicemails was the episode highlight for me! Your F-buddy! Plus the inclusion of Mother of Pearl, which Schull herself seems to use when she doesn’t want to swear was just fabulous and really let us see more of her comic timing.

The scene in which she had drinks with Donna was also lovely, with Donna for once not judging the situation correctly. Plus, having had drinks in that same bar, it was fun to see it on screen! Oh and just when it couldn’t get any better Katrina is going to ballet class, another nod to Schull herself. Let’s hope Katrina gets to have some more fun this season. Personally, I still think she should go out on a date with Stu!

Finally an episode where I liked Sheila

I liked Sheila when she was initially introduced, but in recent seasons I found her character changed so much, becoming a rather unpleasant person, who frankly was causing Louis emotional heartache. So, it was lovely that this week I actually started to like her again. The role play scenes with Louis were good fun and it seems clear that Racheal Harris and Rick Hoffman get on well and I loved the moment in therapy when they both dropped the roles and were themselves with one another.

Yes, I do feel conflicted about how I feel about Sheila’s 360 degree change on having kids. She’s gone from not wanting them, to now seemingly not wanting her career anymore in favour of her child. For Sheila this week, it was her own character and life priorities that didn’t seem to fit anymore. That does feel a bit of a stretch of her character in my opinion, but seeing her and Louis open up to one another in the end was rather lovely (with the exception of her calling Dr. Lipschitz a Nazi. That wasn’t funny the first time and it’s still not funny). Hopefully baby Litt arrives before the season is over and we get to see these crazy role-playing kids happy and settled.

Alex continues to be the voice of reason on all fronts

Alex Williams has really started to come in to his own this season and his growing friendship with Samantha has been lovely to watch. What has also been interesting is his positioning as the most responsible of the named partners, heightened this week by Faye Richardson wanting him to keep an eye on the battle between Harvey, Samantha and Mike. He may not agree, but it’s interesting that he is perhaps the steady hand the firm needs. Yet, my favourite Alex moment this week was his scene with Louis, in which he acts as the voice of every fan watching, when he declares how screwed Louis is! Chances of Louis taking his advice and doing nothing when it came to Sheila – we all knew there was no chance that would happen and seeing Alex chuckling about the impending disaster was great fun to watch.

Is this the end of the road for Samantha Wheeler?

Well, with five episodes left, I think it’s safe to say that Samantha won’t be fired for long! Let’s face it, almost everyone at the firm has been fired, resigned, or been forced to leave at some point – Louis, Donna (x2), Katrina, Gretchen nearly resigned, Harvey, Robert Zane, Jessica. Heck, it’s almost a badge of honour!

I’ve loved Samantha from day one and seeing her get fired was tough, but Faye wasn’t wrong. Samantha made the wrong choice and as a result she put the firm, herself and Harvey in a difficult position. The fact Faye was suggesting it was Harvey who had been shady was also interesting. She’s a smart woman. Did she know it was really Samantha and was testing her, to see if she’d let Harvey take the fall? Either way, it was great to see Samantha not let that happen. It shows just how far she’s come becoming part of this family. Next week is certainly going to be a rollercoaster!

………which leads us to speculation for next week…….

Looking ahead!

Next week is called “Whatever It Takes” and I assume will focus on the firm fighting for Samantha’s job. I can’t believe she won’t be reinstated over the next couple of weeks, but it’ll be interesting to see how that happens. Behind the scenes photos from filming have also suggested that Harvey and Samantha go on a road trip in a future episode. If true perhaps it’s a way for them to build trust again, having seen it broken this week, as she searches for her biological parents. The promo also shows that the mighty Robert Zane is back, which makes sense when Samantha is at risk. It’ll be great to see Wendell Pierce on the show again.

The worst part of next week? It’s 9.06, meaning we are starting to inch ever nearer to the series’ end (filming will also be finished by then too, which is far too sad to think about). Seriously, maybe the next five episodes should be shown every other week to make this last longer!

See you all next week!

Suits season 9 continues next week with 9.06 “Whatever It Takes” on Wednesday night in the US/Canada on USA Network. Episodes continue to arrive in the UK on Netflix each Friday. You can watch the promo for 9.06 here:

(All screenshots courtesy of Suits/USA Network)


Television Review – Suits 9.04 “Cairo” – Strong writing, character development & acting make this a series highlight!

I’m a little late writing my review this week. Blame a combination of real life and the fact that I needed time to convince myself that the episode really did happen and isn’t something I made up!

For me, this latest episode of Suits contained so many elements that I’ve grown to love about this series over the years. It had a little bit of everything – comedy, drama and the importance of family, both the family we are born in to and the one we make for ourselves. Both types have always been integral to Suits, especially for Harvey Specter and 9.04 demonstrated just how far these characters have come over the years. Few episodes of television leave me this satisfied, but this was certainly one of them and I had a huge smile on my face as the credits rolled.

Right, where do I start?

The writing team’s attention to detail continues to impress

I’ve always admired the attention paid to the details by the Suits writing team over the years and this week was a perfect example of a team that know this shows so well, that story points from previous seasons are woven back in to the now, to make the narrative all the more satisfying, especially for longstanding fans, who likely know this world and those details as well as the team behind it! Their commitment to the characters and the series is something I will always be grateful for.

Donna & Harvey – proof that couples can be written in an interesting way on screen!

For those of us who have been waiting years for Darvey to finally end up together, season 9 is a true treat. I admit, I never expected a whole season would be available to this storyline, but I’m so pleased the writers made this decision. Why? It means we get time to see these two characters truly navigate their new relationship and all the ups and the downs and that’s fantastic television.

They may be together now, but Harvey and Donna (probably more so than him) are still adjusting to this new life together, in particular how to communicate with one another and 9.04 gave me something I’d been hoping for since realising we’d have 10 episodes of canon Darvey – arguments! Sure, the romantic elements are fabulous (more on that later), but I was also keen to see them fight, as they find their feet as a couple and this week was a great example of that, as Donna struggles to let Harvey in.

The key is that it was fascinating to watch. So many shows are terrified of taking the characters down the couple path after years of slow burn (I’m an X-Files fan since the 90s, I have bitter experience of this) and I admit, I thought Suits might follow that road too, until perhaps the series finale. Yet, in just four episodes, it’s already proven that, with strong writing and actors as talented and with such chemistry as Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty, that the show won’t suffer by the choice and will instead grow stronger!

Yet, it wasn’t just arguments this week between this couple (part of me still can’t believe I get to type that word to describe them!). Cairo offered me and many other fans so many moments we’d always hoped to see – Harvey telling his mother about Donna and her already knowing about her (I’ll let slide that you said Paula was a keeper, Lily and assume you were trying to be supportive of your son’s dreadful choice!) and going on to say she’s The One (Mike would be so proud); early morning domestic Darvey acting as if they’ve been together for years (one gripe – where’s the cactus?).

Then there was that simply perfect ending, all the way from Harvey letting himself in to Donna’s apartment with his own key, all the way through their sort-of proposal (look, there’ll be a ring before the season ends folks. I bet he bought it days ago!) and then the moment I’ve been hoping for for years – Donna is introduced to Lily. I can’t believe they won’t meet in person too, but hearing Harvey say “Mom, meet Donna. Donna meet Lily” was a huge moment in this series and in the lives of all three of these characters. It was very very special to see. Throw in the wonderful song choice and the incredible chemistry of Sarah and Gabriel and this is easily one of my favourite television scenes ever.

……..Let’s face it, Darvey was a huge element of 9.04, so I wanted to break this down further this week, which leads me to…..

Harvey Specter – a truly satisfying example of character development, which only keeps getting better!

Over the seasons of Suits, the emotional growth of Harvey Specter has been integral to the story. Sure, it was about him hiring a fraud, but I still always saw Harvey as the person at the heart of the series and we’ve been able to watch him truly develop over the years. Yes, I think there has been the odd stumble in how this was written (that opening scene of 7.01 will always annoy me), but without a doubt, the changes in his character have been a joy to watch, as has Gabriel Macht’s superb performance (one for which he doesn’t get nearly enough credit in the television world).

From “caring makes you weak” to the man who, this week, has grown so much emotionally that he was able to take all of Donna’s insecurities and hurtful comments thrown his way, her father’s judgment and Louis’s anger and deal with each one rationally and calmly. He is now so at peace with where he is in his life and where it will go, that situations which in the past would have lead to yelling, anger and possibly emotional withdrawal from Harvey, he is now able to talk through and resolve. It’s incredible to watch.

I’ll talk more about Donna below, but look at how he dealt with Jim Paulsen. Realising getting on good terms with him mattered to Donna, he tried to fix it. Yes, he screwed it up the first time (another excellent writing decision), but he tried again, because he knew it mattered and with the moral support of his mother (a huge plot point in itself), he was able to demonstrate to Jim that, despite their complicated history, he was a man worthy of his daughter. Then there was Louis. In the past, the fact Louis was actually in the right with his argument that ultimately, this is all Harvey’s fault (sorry Harvey!), wouldn’t have mattered at all and Harvey would have never had the emotional awareness to not only understand his outburst, but to swiftly fix it. Yet, this week, that’s exactly what he was able to do. Yet again, Suits demonstrates why this series really is all about family.

I also want to acknowledge Gabriel Macht’s performance this week. He’s always brilliant, but in particular, I always love his ability to play the subtle moments and there were so many in 9.04 – the way he dips his had in hurt and frustration when his initial chat with Jim goes so wrong; the change in his voice when Donna lashes out in his office about the same meeting, displaying his guilt at messing it up and his hurt at her words; his expression after Louis’s outburst when Donna tells him to leave him be; right through to the way he conveys how she is Harvey’s whole world in that last gaze. We’ve been so very lucky to have Gabriel play Harvey.

And then there was Donna…….

Donna struggling to adjust to the new emotionally available Harvey – we understand Donna, we’d be a little thrown too in your shoes!

I’ve covered already Harvey’s incredible development, which has culminated in the man on our screens this week, but as well as dealing with difficulties with Jim and Louis, Harvey and Donna also had to navigate a few bumps in 9.04. Yet, what made this all the more interesting was that it was Donna, not Harvey, who had some lessons to learn.

So far this season, it has been Harvey who been the more open of the two. He’s been clear with her about his feelings for her and his commitment to them as a couple and it didn’t go unnoticed by me that it was Donna who was holding back. Yes, she’s been the one to explain his feelings to Harvey over the years, but I have never thought she was someone fully aware of her own. She’s been as confused as him and while Harvey has been all in since the end of 8.16, it’s seemed that Donna had yet to fully relax in to the fact that this is real. I wondered if it was just me, or whether we’d see anything on screen about this, so seeing her struggle to communicate with him this week was so satisfying. She couldn’t be honest with him about Faye, deflecting her frustrations at the unfairness of the choice put to her, by putting it all on her father and Harvey’s seeming unwillingness to get along with him. I felt sorry for Harvey, oblivious as to the real reasons for her anger in his direction.

Yet, not once, but twice, he took the argument calmly and once issues were resolved, finally called her out on her holding back. Having Harvey be the one telling her that she needed to be open with him about what she was feeling, so that they can tackle it together was clearly a surprise to Donna. Yet, she knew he was right and learnt something by the end of Cairo and now they are both absolutely on the same page about where they stand and where they are heading and I’m excited to see where the next six episodes will take these two complex and wonderful characters, both as a couple and individually.

Specter Litt Wheeler Williams really are a team now and I love it!

It may have been all change at the end of season seven, but 9.04 proved that this group of characters are now, without a doubt, a strong team, both professionally and personally. Watching the four named partners stride confidently down the corridor to stand up for Donna (who Faye really has seemed to unfairly go after recently) was an episode highlight. Yet again, the importance of the family unit was on full display in Suits. I loved hearing them all speak of the little details from the show’s history that bond them together (although if Donna’s going to be baby Litt’s Godmother, has Louis relented on the religion of his child??). Watch out Faye, they may be a bit renegade with their work, but try and come between this group at your peril!

Louis & Harvey’s brotherly bond brings a tear to the eye

Yes, the biggest bromance of the series will always be Mike and Harvey, but I’ve always loved the complicated relationship between Harvey and Louis. We’ve seen them go through so much. All that anger, jealousy and resentment from Louis, all of Harvey’s short tempered outbursts at him (many of my biggest series highlights centre around these two – the fight that had Louis go through a glass table, the end of 4.09 when Louis screws up and goes to Harvey, while he was on his way to him; the beautiful scene after Louis was mugged, to name just three). This week saw the two back in the bullpen, reflecting on the past and putting their latest fight behind them. With the series inching closer to the end, moments like this feel all the more touching and nostalgic and I’m so pleased that these two men will clearly end the series closer than ever.

Samantha and Alex – From rivals to friends, as well as partners

Talking of friendships and great writing, what is unfolding on the show between Samantha and Alex touches on both of these things. They were introduced to each other as rivals for named partner, yet now, they have one of the closest bonds on the show and having Samantha become a surrogate member of the Williams family has been a lovely storyline. It also continues to lay the foundation for where the series could end. The lives of Louis and Harvey are shifting, as they both grow up and start to see that life has more to offer than work and if by the end they decide to move on, leaving Wheeler Williams to lead a firm in to the future, it would feel like a natural progression. I’ll be curious to see if this happens.

Katrina continues to stand up for herself

It’s hard to remember how much I disliked Katrina when she arrived in Suits and this week continued to see her grow in confidence, not just in her legal ability, but in her ability to handle workplace dynamics. In Cairo we saw her confident enough in herself and her opinions, that she was able to stand up to both Faye and Louis and it was wonderful to see. Let’s hope her storyline continues down this path. It’s what this character deserves.

Rick Hoffman & his comic delivery continue to delight week after week

Year after year I find myself frustrated that Rick Hoffman isn’t acknowledged for his portrayal of Louis Litt. Perhaps it’s because the character doesn’t fall in to a comfortable comedy or drama bucket. Instead, he blends both perfectly and that takes such talent. This week, we again saw both of these side of Louis, with his fight with Harvey in the same episode as some of his funniest lines at the episode’s outset. The scene in which he terrifies Susan’s parents is just brilliantly written and performed (the pitch perfect delivery of the “Oh shit” as he leaves the room, a particular highlight for me), only to be followed by one of my favourite comic duos – Louis and Gretchen! What a pair! And the line that made me laugh out loud this week – “I’d be better off with the urn!” Oh Louis, I truly love you!

Alex Williams can finally leave the prison case behind

This was perhaps the weakest part of the episode for me and yet I also understand the choices of including an old story, rather than a new one. I really like Alex Williams and I do think he’s struggled to have as interesting a storyline so far, as say, Samantha, or Katrina and so having a closer look at him was definitely needed. So, I admit, I was a little disappointed that they’d chosen to have his story revolve around the prison case again. We’ve covered this a lot, having it be the focus of a large part of season 7 and we’d already seen Alex talk Mike through all of this week’s flashbacks. So, I found myself wondering why we were covering old ground again. Yet, with so little time, I understand it made sense to have this revolve around something that was already familiar, rather than to try and introduce something new.

That slight grumble aside, I enjoyed seeing Alex struggle with his guilt and have to face Rosalie when she learns of not just what he did, but that he kept it from her and the scene in which his anger and fear exploded in the direction of his so-called friend, who he was trying to protect too, by keeping him away from this client, was one of Dule Hill’s strongest moments in the series so far. It was also lovely that it was Samantha, not Harvey, who saved the day for Alex. I only hope we get to see a little more about him now that this plot has finally been put to bed.

Who doesn’t want to have Samantha Wheeler’s professional confidence?!

I liked Samantha Wheeler from the outset, but she continues to get better and better each week and watching her confidently put Alex’s dreadful “friend” in his place (Trevor may have a rival for crappiest friend on Suits) was a joy to watch! When she confidently declared that she was going to kick his ass the old fashioned way, because she was the better lawyer, it made me cheer. Next time I’m in a tricky work situation, I’m going to try and channel this woman!

Looking ahead!

So, next week will see us reach the halfway mark of season nine. It’s going so quickly! What do we know? Episode 9.05 is called “If The Shoe Fits” and will see the return of Mike Ross! Having him a part of this last run was on everyone’s must-have list and I’m excited to see him come up against the firm, with a case that sounds as though we’ll see him, Harvey and Samantha in some tense moments. It’ll also be fascinating to see if he meets Faye. As the fraud who went to jail, I’m sure she’ll have some choice words to say to him!

Well, I’ll see you all next week (and until then I’ll be watching season 9 so far on repeat)!

Suits season 9 continues next week with 9.05 “If The Shoe Fits” on Wednesday on USA Network in the USA/Canada and on Friday via Netflix in the UK. You can watch the promo here:

Television Review – Suits 9.02 “Special Master” where there’s a new boss in town!

After last week’s strong season opener, I was excited to see if the second episode in this final season of Suits would meet my raised expectations and the good news is that, overall, Special Master did indeed suggest that the cast and creative team of my favourite series are giving everything they’ve got to this last run.

There is lots to talk about in this week’s episode, so let’s get started!

Introducing Faye Richardson & she certainly makes her mark!

(Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network)

Having seen her arrive at the end of last week’s season premiere, this week saw the NY Bar’s Special Master wasting no time at making her presence felt in the halls of Zane Specter Litt Wheeler Williams. And first order of business was stripping that first name from the wall. The introduction of Faye gives the series an opportunity to do something a little different when it comes to threats against the firm. This time it isn’t someone dirtier or shadier than any of our favourites, it is someone who is in the right! Ever since the show began, we may have loved these characters, but they tend to live in the grey, justified by the fact that, usually, those they are against are far worse. Now, Faye Richardson is here, in her words, to help them to “fly right.” Ultimately, it’s for their benefit if they want the firm’s reputation to survive intact!

And what an entrance she makes! Denise Crosby is superb in this role, immediately standing her ground with Harvey, Samantha and truly putting Louis Litt in his place on an epic scale. The scene in which she dresses him down in the kitchen, in front of anyone within earshot, was brilliantly acted by both Crosby and Rick Hoffman and had me cringing in pain for Louis. We’ve seen Harvey and Jessica lay down the law to him before, but this was brutal. As first impressions go, she’s absolutely going to be a character I love to dislike, while relishing all the tension she stirs up!

Louis Litt reaches boiling point!

(Photo by: Shane Mahood/USA Network)

The versatility of Rick Hoffman has been one of the most consistent aspects of Suits from very early on and he continues to impress week on week and 9.02 was another rollercoaster for Louis Litt, who by the end of the hour was displaying some of his worst traits, as he seemingly reached boiling point in his personal battle with Faye Richardson. Before that though, we were treated to what I love most about Louis – his unique blend of ridiculousness and kindness, when interacting with his friends.

I admit, the opening scene was perhaps a little too bonkers for me. I mean, sure, Louis is one of a kind, but even he isn’t as stupid as he was coming across when, for the second episode running, he was missing the obvious when it came to Donna and Harvey’s new status. It did feel a tiny bit too OTT, but as it’s Louis, I’ll let it go and the scene was worth it for the look of sheer horror that appears on Harvey’s face on seeing Louis’s outfit!

Yet, this isn’t the best Louis scene this week. Who needs a cat fair, or mudding, when Alex Williams is there to take you bowling! Honestly, from the moment I saw behind the scenes pictures from this shoot, I have been looking forward to seeing Hoffman take his character bowling and it was just as much fun to watch as I’d hoped (and we learnt about yet another childhood trauma. Poor young Louis really did suffer)! It was also a great opportunity to see another side to Alex Williams, who has remained rather serious since he arrived. Plus we got to enjoy seeing Dule Hill tap dance on screen too!

And if that wasn’t enough, we were also treated to Louis mixing genuine affection, with inappropriateness, with Donna, by letting her know how happy he is for her and Harvey, while also fishing for details about their sex life! Oh Louis, never change!!!

Yet, channelling his rage by knocking pins down didn’t last long and soon poor Benjamin (it was so good to have David Reale back!) bore the brunt of the managing partner on the verge of exploding under the weight of the humiliation he was feeling and sure, Faye is right, but did she really need to so publicly embarrass Louis and seem to enjoy it?! With the episode ending with him stripped of his title and position, it’ll be interesting to see which sides of Louis Litt’s personality are on display next week.

Harvey Specter’s incredible emotional development continues to astonish me!

I’ve said many times over my reviews of Suits, that one of the most exciting elements for me has been watching the character development of Harvey Specter. The odd stumble aside (I’m looking at you 7.01), he has gradually been becoming a more emotionally accessible man and now that he’s taken the next step with Donna, his transformation is complete, which was never more evident than in this week’s episode. More than ready to tell Louis last week, he was perfectly at ease breaking the news in 9.02 (his friend’s clothing the only thing causing him anxiety in that scene!), and was also able to speak rationally to Samantha when her knee-jerk reaction to Faye’s arrival was to jump ship. Plus, when it came to Donna, he was able to not only sense her worries about him becoming Thomas’s lawyer, but give her the type of reassurance that she usually provides to him.

Yet, the finest, most satisfying, character moment so far for Harvey was, in what was probably my favourite scene of 9.02, his meeting with Donna’s ex. He was rational, calm and mature, treating this man, who he knows is principled and decent, with respect. And the moment Thomas asked him the same question he’d put to Donna in last season’s finale, Harvey didn’t hesitate, simply pausing ever so briefly, the smallest of sympathetic expressions on his face (knowing that this is not going to be easy for the other man to hear), before freely speaking the truth Suits fans have known for years – that Donna is the most important person in his life and that not only does he now know it, but she does too.

I admit, I was speechless at this scene, played so well by Gabriel Macht and Sasha Roiz. Two men, treating each other with respect and maturity in a situation that could have gone very differently and seeing Harvey so utterly calm and happy to let anyone know how in love he is, was one of my highlights of all the seasons so far.

Meanwhile Donna took responsibility for her choices

The main focus of this week’s episode may have been on other storylines, but the strength of 9.02 was that everyone had a few significant scenes (although I’d have liked more Katrina) and when it came to Donna, it was fantastic to see her be confronted with the guilt she clearly feels about breaking Thomas Kessler’s heart. Personally, I didn’t really like their break-up scene last week, so it was lovely to see Roiz back again this week and as well as the superb scene with Macht, I also loved what I assume will be his last moments with Sarah Rafferty as Donna.

The scene was played with the perfect balance of emotions. These are two people that clearly had a spark and who, had Harvey never been in the picture, could very likely have ended up together. Seeing the way they slip in to light banter to cover up how hard the situation is for both of them, was lovely to watch and I did feel sympathy for Thomas, as he gazed at the woman he clearly could see a future with, while knowing it wasn’t to be. I’m not surprised he changed his mind about staying with the firm!

The episode also saw Donna take responsibility, to some extent, for the choice she made at the end of last season, which ultimately resulted in the arrival of the Bar’s spy. Seeing her lay the truth out to Faye in such an emotionally honest way was one of the week’s highlights and Rafferty demonstrated yet again why Donna has become such a special character within this series.

Samantha helps a friend in need, as the show raises the importance of talking about mental health.

I had been hoping we’d learn more about Samantha’s military service in this season, as it fascinates me that the woman we see now had this kind of backstory and this week we saw a further glimpse in to her past, through the introduction of her friend, who she also served alongside during her four years in the service. Yet, this storyline served a much more important purpose – raising the subject of mental health and how important it is for anyone struggling to ask for help. Seeing someone as strong as Samantha openly acknowledge her struggles and that she’d needed to seek support, as a way to help her friend suffering from PTSD, was so important to see on television. In a world where so many people are still suffering in silence, most shows should be addressing this topic.

Looking ahead……..

We’re already talking about 9.03! Can time slow down? This season is going too fast.

Next week is directed by Gabriel Macht and is called “Windmills” which could mean anything, although the first thing I thought of was the phrase “tilting at windmills,” used to refer to someone battling an imaginary enemy. Is this the start of them realising that Faye perhaps isn’t the bad guy after all? That seems doubtful, seeing as she’s just demoted Louis! What else do we know? The promo suggests Louis is leaving, but I assume that’s a rouse, as although I can see him moving on, I don’t think that’ll happen until later in the run. The synopsis lets us know that Harvey takes a case to make a point to Faye. If we get similar scenes between Crosby and Macht as we did between her and Rick Hoffman this week, I’ll be very happy indeed. Finally it also seems as though something is getting between Donna and Harvey and this new emotionally aware Harvey isn’t happy about it. Good for you Harvey. I’m proud of you!

I’d say I can’t wait, but actually, I’m more than happy for this last run to take as long as possible!

Suits season 9 continues next week with 9.03 “Windmills” on Wednesday night on USA Network in the USA. This week’s episode arrives on Netflix in the UK tomorrow (Friday), which seems to be the new regular slot for this last season. You can watch the promo for 9.03 here:

Television Review – Suits kicks off its final season with a bang, in 9.01 “Everything’s Changed”

Well, this week finally sees the start of the ninth and sadly final season of Suits (any chance we can rethink that final season bit?) and I’m both excited it’s back, while also feeling sad that the end is not that far away. After the emotional end to season 8, it’s no exaggeration that this might be my most anticipated season of television yet and the good news is, that this final season opener didn’t disappoint!

As always, let’s dive in to the detail.

I usually leave all things #Darvey until last, but let’s face it, this is the biggest part of 9.01 and so there was only one place to begin!

The start of the next phase of Darvey and it was even better than I’d hoped for!

Well, blimey, has everyone recovered from this episode?! I’d had certain hopes for the season and when it came to Donna and Harvey’s new romantic relationship, my biggest wish was that we’d get the chance to see them navigating all the different aspects of this new phase of their lives. What I hadn’t been prepared for however, was seeing so much of that in episode one! Across the 45 minutes, we were treated to seeing Harvey & Donna’s intimacy, love, shyness, honesty, flirty and suggestive banter, mature conversations about tough topics, comic moments AND a fiery exchange – all in the first episode! Unbelievable!

I’ve never hid the fact I’ve wanted this couple together and after 9.01, this their narrative has already become the most satisfying of all television relationships I’ve ever invested in and that’s certainly exciting as we move forward!

I loved almost all of it, so I suppose it would be more appropriate to first say what I particularly enjoyed from this abundance of Darvey riches! Top of that list is this new side to Harvey. Arguably, the title of the episode relates more to Harvey Specter and his view on life than anything else. Gone was the emotionally guarded man of the past and in his place was a man not afraid to tell people about their relationship when Louis shows up and ready and who is more than willing to discuss his emotions. It was quite something to watch – as he tells Donna that he’s glad he came over, that he wants to come back the next night (i.e. this is not a one night thing), that he loves her reading his mind and in their gorgeous last scene, as he makes clear how ready he is for them to be together and that he loves her. Plus, her still technically being with Thomas? He didn’t let it be an obstacle, or a reason to feel guilty and mistrusting of their relationship, which is a huge change for this character (although the edit of that phone call was odd; it’d been nice to see Harvey’s face when he reacted to her still being with Kessler when he came over).

The use of Mike and Rachel’s apartment could have felt a bit odd, but the reason for its inclusion was rather lovely, showing how much Harvey had been hoping the pair would come back (how loaded is he, to be able to afford rent on top of everything else?!) and the call-back to his line to Donna in the pilot episode (well for international viewers anyway – it was a deleted scene in the US) that he loves her because she gets him was just perfect. No doubt this is the first of many nostalgic call backs to the earlier years as we inch closer to the end of the show and it also ensured Mike and Rachel had a presence in the episode, despite not being on screen. One thing though Harvey, with Mike’s memory, I bet he remembers Rick Sorkin too and has worked out your fake tenant scheme!

If I had to gripe, I’m not entirely sure why Donna had to still be with, and therefore break up with, Kessler. It was clear from 8.16 that it was over (and indeed the deleted break up scene had him end it). Whether they’d been together, or not, Harvey didn’t know either way, so I’d have preferred her to have already made the split official from Thomas, rather than her inviting Harvey in knowing that that hadn’t already happened. And my other gripe, there was a fair amount of reference to Harvey being blind for 12 years and coming to his senses, as though Donna had been consciously sitting there waiting for him all that time. I’ve never seen it that way. I think for a large amount of time she was as blind as him, so this irritated me a little bit, but focussing on the positives – we can now look forward to seeing their relationship develop for a whole nine episodes! Perfect!

Louis Litt being Louis Litt!

We’d all assumed Louis would turn up at Donna’s apartment the morning after and discover the big change between his two friends. Yet, in true Louis style, he was oblivious to what was so completely obvious! Although, to be fair to him, were this any other earlier Suits season, his assumption would very likely have been correct – they’d have been doing anything other than “banging it out all night!”

The humour in Suits has always been a highlight for me and this scene was the show at its best on this front – the double entendres flying all around Donna’s living room were brilliant! Darvey aside, I also enjoyed seeing Louis acting relatively level-headed this week. Yes, he was frustrated and angry at the idea of dishonouring Robert’s name, but he didn’t lash out emotionally the way he would have in the past. Just like Harvey, he’s grown up and is moving in to a new phase in his life.

Samantha Wheeler continues to kick ass (in and out of the boxing ring)!

I already loved Samantha’s character, finding her a fun and fiery addition to the series last season and this week I thought she (and Katherine Heigl) was fantastic, taking no prisoners in her fight for her mentor’s reputation.

Seeing her get up in the face of her old partner, when he dares call her sweetpea (what an arrogant idiot he is) impressed not just us, but Harvey too! Then there was her reaction to the knowledge of where Harvey really spent his night – the way she leans back in her chair, the expression on her face, almost predatory in the knowledge that she now has leverage over him, mixed with her anger at the unfairness of it all. Let’s face it, her verbal fight with Harvey was perfectly valid and just like Harvey, she’s loyal to those she cares for and no one more than Robert Zane. Oh and watching her and Harvey take each other on in the boxing ring was great fun! Now that she’s on better terms with Harvey and seemed to make peace with Donna, I’m hoping they’ll be all on the same team going forward. They’ll clearly need to be!

Katrina & Alex – the calming influences of the firm

If I take a step back and look at the firm rationally, then I could see Alex and Katrina making a pretty good team running a firm. It’d be by the book and run with precision. But where’s the fun in that?!

This week saw these two being the calming influences amongst the high emotions flying around. Crucially, it’s fantastic to see Katrina with more strength and confidence in her position, meaning she is the one to present the hard truths to Alex, knowing he’d be sensible enough to take it forward. We also saw her meet Sheila (I honestly hadn’t realised this hadn’t already happened) and overall this was an entertaining scene, in which two rather blunt women were absolutely transparent with each other. Having said that, Sheila didn’t improve in my opinion following her last comment about Katrina’s appearance, which came across as just bitchy to me. Then we had Alex being offered Managing Partner. You never know, that could happen by the end.

Enter Faye Richardson to shake things up!

I suspected the last scene would be this one, dropping the bombshell on Louis that he was no longer in charge of the firm, as we saw the arrival of Faye Richardson, appointed by the New York Bar Association to effectively take control of a firm that is tarnished in the eyes of the wider legal world. She wasted no time in making her position clear and it’ll be fun to see how everyone else reacts. Things are clearly about to get very interesting!

Looking ahead……..

So, next week will see the fallout from the arrival of Faye Richardson, Special Master, who will be laying some ground rules for the firm. I’m excited to see where the writers take this plot line, as it will impact on all of our characters – Harvey and Samantha will no doubt feel attacked, Donna will likely feel judged in a similar vein to Malik in season seven, Louis will likely feel torn between his love of the law (and therefore going by the book) and loyalty to his work family. In the series promo (see below), it sounds as though someone is getting fired down the line. Will it be Harvey? Donna? Louis? Whoever it is, there are going to be ramifications that will no doubt impact on where we leave these characters at the end.

As for what else might be coming our way, 9.01 referred again to Samantha’s military service and so hopefully we’ll learn more about that. We had Harvey acknowledge his change in attitude to cheating (he didn’t even consider Thomas), which I hope opens the door to an appearance of his mother, who he may understand a little more now. There was the return of Professor Gerrard (hi to Gabriel’s dad!), so perhaps this will lead to a new career path for Louis? Oh and Sheila seems to have advanced a few months overnight in her pregnancy, so fingers crossed we’ll see the arrival of Baby Litt! I’m also trying to ignore the return of Brian in the promo – don’t do it Katrina!

Clearly season 9 has the potential to be one of the best of the series!

Any chance we can reconsider this being the end? Please………….

Suits season 9 continues next week with 9.02 “Special Master” on Wednesday night on USA Network in the US. As for the UK, it’s arrival and airing on Netflix is unclear. It might be weekly from this Saturday, or 9.01 on Saturday and then the rest weekly on Thursdays. At this point, it’s not clear, so watch this space. You can watch the promo for next week / the season here:

My Suits Season 9 Wishlist!

So, we are now hours away from the premiere of the ninth and final season of Suits. I’ve been intending to post this wishlist for some time now, but every time I went to finish it, something else was announced, rendering it already out of date! So, I decided to wait until now and treat this post as my warm up for the show.

It’s a strange time to be a Suits fan, especially if you’re also a #Darvey fan. It’s a mix of excitement at having the show and these fantastic characters back on our screens, anticipation at seeing how they will tackle Donna and Harvey’s new relationship and sadness that we only have ten weeks left of new episodes, before we have to say goodbye. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not ready yet.

So, as we wait to see what happens in 9.01 (aptly named “Everything’s Changed”), I thought I’d set out my wishlist for this season, despite the fact that I already know some of my biggest hopes are already happening.

Here goes!

The return of Mike and the Mike / Harvey bromance!

This was, without a doubt, at the top of my list and has been ever since Patrick J. Adams left at the end of season seven. The series simply couldn’t end without us seeing Mike again. At the moment, all we know for sure is that Mike is back in 9.05, in which he’ll go up against both Harvey and Samantha on a case. As this is just one episode though, I can’t imagine it’s all angst and look forward to some of the Batman & Robin dynamic that I first loved about Suits. Plus, we need him to find out about Donna and Harvey getting together! He’ll burst with excitement! Do I hope he’ll also pop back for the series finale? Of course, but at least we’ll see Mike at least once before the end arrives.

Getting to see Donna and Harvey navigate all aspects of a new romantic relationship.

Let’s face it, none of us are over THAT last scene! I mean, was that real?! I can barely believe the above released image is real! I never imagined we’d have a whole season to enjoy Donna and Harvey as a couple, but now that we do, I want to see as much of them navigating that as possible. That doesn’t just mean the fluffy, coupley moments either (although I’ll take as many of those as they give us, such as maybe dancing to one of his dad’s records, saying they love each other, planning a future). I also want the first fight, the struggle to learn how to communicate on this new level, the honest conversations and the working out where their lives are going to lead them. If done well, this could be the most satisfying on screen relationship I’ll have ever invested in!

Harvey’s mother Lily meeting Donna

There are many people from the last eight years that I’d love to see return (see a few below), but the only one I have to have, otherwise I will feel somewhat disappointed, is Harvey’s mother. We’ve seen how much of a shadow his relationship with her cast over his emotional life and Donna was the reason he was able to forgive her. We’ve seen him tell his mother it was thanks to someone special and we’ve seen his mother mistakenly think that someone was Paula. Surely the series can’t end without Lily finally meeting the woman who has always been so important to her son. It feels like a missing piece in the puzzle. All my fingers are crossed.

Happiness for Louis Litt

Louis has been on such a rollercoaster over the seasons. We’ve despised him, felt sorry for him, cheered him on, laughed with him (and at him) and cried for him. I certainly don’t think his relationship with Sheila is perfect by any means, but they do seem to work together and now with a baby on the way (one which I really hope we see born during this season), the future could be a very happy one for Louis Litt. All I hope now is that wherever he ends the series, whether still at the firm, taking a teaching position at Harvard (could Professor Gerrard by stepping down and looking for a replacement?), becoming a stay at home dad, I want him to be happy. He deserves that.

More of the fun and humour from the early years coming back

From all the recent interviews that have been released, this seems to be another wish that looks to be coming true. I’ve enjoyed the more angst-filled phases of Suits, but I admit, the fun and humour of earlier seasons is something I’m looking forward to seeing again this year and it sounds like the Darvey flirty banter is back, which makes sense now they don’t have to pretend they don’t have feelings for one another. Plus, with Louis around and everyone needing to find out about the new firm couple, there’s bound to be fun coming our way!

More about Samantha’s history, especially her military service

We’ve already learnt quite a bit about Samantha in just one season, but I’m certainly interested to know more. We know her early family life was a bad one and that she also joined the service and I’d love to find out more about that. She’s been a great addition to the cast and it’d be fascinating to see more before the series ends.

More family time!

We’ve seen glimpses of the families of all of the gang over the years and in this last run I’d love to see more of that. We’ve already been promised that there’ll be one episode for each character this season, in which we’ll focus more on them, which is very promising, but I’m most keen to see more of Donna’s parents and Harvey’s brother and in an ideal world a flashback with Harvey’s father. Oh and Gretchen dating Alex’s father-in-law could be brilliant to watch!

Some familiar faces appearing one last time!

There have been so many wonderful guest actors in the show over the years, so narrowing it down for this last season is tough, but if I had a say, then top of my list would be: Stu (I love Stu – maybe he can take Katrina out on a date); Dr. Lipschitz (because he’s simply superb); Travis Tanner (because he pushes all of Harvey’s buttons); Robert Zane (although Wendell Pierce himself told me at the stage door of his London play that he’d be “slipping back” to Suits before it ends, so that’s probably a given); Benjamin (because why wouldn’t you want to see him back again?!) and Sean Cahill (because I always liked his dynamics with the characters on the show). Oh……and the cactus! Bring back the cactus!

The events I can live without (but will happily take)!

There are a few things I know some fans are desperate to see, particularly Donna and Harvey getting engaged and/or married and/or getting pregnant, and Harvey getting his duck painting back! If any of these happen, then that’s great, but equally, if the series ends without these events, I won’t feel disappointed.

So………….that’s my list. Honestly, the fact that I already know I’m getting quite a few of these is so exciting. Yes, it’s bittersweet, but I’m determined to focus on the positives – Suits is back!

Suits season 9 starts tonight in the USA on USA Network. It’s arrival on Netflix is, as yet, to be confirmed.

A Suits Locations Adventure (in Toronto & NYC)!

(UPDATED: 25 July – to include requested maps)

I know I’m not the only one out there who enjoys tracking down locations used in their favourite television shows and films and over the last two years I’ve incorporated this hobby in to my trips to two cities used for filming of my current favourite show, Suits, which are of course Toronto (where the series has been based since season one) and New York (where the pilot was filmed and also home of Darvey’s restaurants)!

Using existing resources (see the links at the bottom) for some of the locations from seasons 1-6 and my own detective skills for a few from seasons 7 and 8, I wanted to write this post as a record of my holidays, but also to help other Suits (and Darvey fans) making similar trips in the future! Special thanks to @darvey247 for her help with most of the screenshots (which are of course the property of Suits USA)!

So, let’s get started!

1.) Everyone’s favourite office building!!

There have technically been two locations used for the Suits office lobby and exterior, but I’ll start with the one that has served as the location throughout the series in Toronto and that’s the Bay Adelaide Centre! With the white marble-effect floors, wooden-effect detailing on the walls, the light panels along the side and those revolving doors, it’s a location that has seen so many fantastic scenes and walking around it is such a thrill!

Although the Bay Adelaide Centre has become the location over the years, the location used for the pilot episode was 601 Lexington Avenue, New York. During my 2018 trip to NYC, there was a lot of construction going on around this building, but it’s recognisable stilt-like structure and lobby could still be seen.

Tips – Head down the escalators in the Bay Adelaide Centre office building to reach the food outlets, other shops and public toilets. It also has free wifi, which means you can sit in the little seating area outside the building and still access the internet!

Toronto – Bay Adelaide Centre – 333 Bay Street; NYC – 601 Lexington Avenue.

All those iconic #Darvey locations are a must for any fan headed to Toronto & NYC!

2.) THE Diner (season 3, ep 7 “The Other Time”)

What better place to start than one of the most iconic Darvey moments in Suits and that’s the diner in which we see Harvey ask Donna to work for him again, where they agree to forget The Other Time, where the can opener idea is born and where, years later, Harvey admits Donna’s relationship with Stephen bothers him (shocker!). The location is The Lakeview Diner and as you’ll see from the photos, it hasn’t changed (other than the artwork) and for those wanting the right booth, it’s the last one on the row along the wall as you enter, with the bar stools across the aisle. It’s certainly smaller in real-life than it is on screen, so I imagine it was a tight squeeze with the cameras in there!

Tip – They do a great chocolate milkshake! Also, if heading there from Downtown, I recommend the 505 bus. You need coins to pay on the bus, but it’ll be quicker than walking! Get off at the Ossington Avenue stop.

The Lakeview Diner, 1132 Dundas Street West

3.) Harvey & Donna first meet (season 4, ep. 16 “Not Just A Pretty Face”)

The bar where it all began! This is the place where Donna walked boldly up to Harvey at the bar and the rest has been history. Here was also where Forstman made Harvey his offer of employment, from across the room after Donna turns down Harvey’s advances! These scenes were filmed at Citizen, one of my favourite bars of my trips. It is predominantly the same as it was when Suits filmed there; the bar area is the same, as is the area where Forstman was sitting.

There has been some changes though to the area where Donna and Harvey took their discussion to the corner, which initially confused me. It’s directly behind where they stood at the bar, but the leather seating has changed colour, as has the paintwork of the walls. Also, interestingly, where Harvey was sitting there isn’t actually a seat now, but it’s definitely the right spot. You’ll see the wooden beam in the corner and the light match, as does the wooden shelving behind the waiter who serves Harvey.

Tip – French Detox & Le Grand Fizz summer cocktails are both lovely!

Citizen, 522 King Street West (entrance on Brant Street) –

4.) Donna’s apartment exterior no.1 (season 2 ep.7 “Sucker Punch”)

Up to now Suits has used three exterior locations for Donna’s apartment and the first, at 176 John Street, was during season 2, including the scene where Harvey is waiting outside to ask her to do the mock trial. I visited this location in 2018 and found it had changed quite a lot since filming. This year I didn’t go back, but there appeared to be construction of the street, but hopefully it can still be recognised by die-hard fans, if those metal awnings jutting out next to it are still there.

5.) Donna’s apartment exterior no.2 (season 3 ep.9 “Bad Faith”)

By the next big Darvey moment outside Donna’s apartment, the filming location had moved to 11 Duncan Street and has remained there until season 8. It was here where Harvey was waiting for Donna to take her for breakfast at Nougatine in season 3, and where he was waiting to confront her after he discovered her actions in the Liberty Rail case at the start of Intent in season 4. Nothing has really changed here (heck, there was even a black car outside when I went!), so I wonder why they changed for season 8.

6.) Because She Earned It! (Season 8, episode 7 “Sour Grapes”)

No Darvey fan will forget this intense moment from season 8, when Donna let rip at Harvey’s comment that he put her in her job! I still can’t stand that he said that, but it’s a great scene (and I’m only a tiny bit bitter that I missed seeing the filming of this by minutes)! It was shot next door to the firm’s lobby location, in the lobby of the Deloitte office building at Bay Adelaide East, 8 Adelaide Street West.

7.) Harvey tells Donna that he needs her (season 2, ep.9 “Asterisk”)

Another great Darvey moment was when Harvey, determined to get Donna back, stops her on the street and tells her he needs her. It’s such a lovely scene and was filmed on King Street West, near Portland Street. It’s harder to recognise now, but the orange signage behind Harvey is still visible and the trees remain!

8.) Del Posto – The #Darvey restaurant!

Any fan of Darvey knows about Del Posto. It’s the restaurant that they go to every year to celebrate the anniversary of Donna working for Harvey. As the series is filmed in Toronto, the scenes from season 5 are not shot in the actual restaurant, but it does exist in NYC and is well worth a visit. Yes, it’s a bit pricey, so I’d recommend going for lunch, which is a little cheaper, or perfect for a special occasion (I went for my birthday with a friend)! The food was superb, the drinks were fantastic and it’s the only restaurant I’ve been to where they provide a small cushioned footstool for your handbag! Oh and if you’re lucky like me, the pianist might even start playing The Scientist while you are there!

Del Posto, 85 Tenth Avenue, New York City, NY 10011-

9.) Breakfast at Nougatine! (season 3, episode 9 “Bad Faith”)

The other Darvey location on my NYC list was of course breakfast at Nougatine! The restaurant is located on the ground floor of Trump International Hotel (no comment), but you don’t need to be a hotel guest to eat there and I simply made a reservation. It’s just by Central Park, so nicely situated for a day where you’re planning to explore that part of the city.

Nougatine, 1 Central Park West, New York City, NY 10023 –

Harvey & Mike – the best bromance on TV!

Season 9 will see our favourite bromance reunited for at least one episode. It’s a friendship that has seen so many special moments and some of those have been on location.

10.) Mike asks Harvey if Donna’s “The One” (season 7 ep.14 “Pulling The Goalie”)

It was the question we all wanted to ask Harvey following his split from Paula Agard, when he chose having Donna in his life over her (thank god!) – did he realise Paula wasn’t The One because Donna was? I always love this scene and tracked it down purely by chance and this was my favourite bar of my Toronto trips, called Weslodge. It hasn’t changed since the filming, so take a seat at the end of the bar just like Harvey & Mike! Don’t worry if you’re on your own either, as the bar staff are lovely.

Tip – Say hello to the lovely Irish bar manager for me! He’ll take great care of you. As for drinks, their cocktails are fantastic, especially the Summer 75, Diablo & their Old Cuban!

Weslodge, 480 King St West –

11.) Harvey takes Mike for whiskey on his release from prison (season 6 ep. 10 “P.S.L”)

Besides Rachel, no one was happier to see Mike released from prison than Harvey, who welcomed him back by taking him for celebratory drinks and presenting him with a job offer (albeit one he didn’t take). The location for this is the fabulous Drake One Fifty. Unless you’re a large group, you’ll be unlikely to be seated in their booth, but as the bar hasn’t changed since filming, you’ll be able to recognise it (it’s the one closest to the camera in my photo above).

Tip – La Belle Vie cocktail is perfect for summer!

Drake One Fifty, 150 York Street –

All the other homes of our favourite characters

As you’ll already have seen with Donna’s apartment, the crew have not always used the same location for the apartment exteriors of the Suits gang. I haven’t been able to find them all (yet!), with Harvey’s first apartment exterior and Louis’s current home being the ones still a mystery, but if you want to see the others, then they are below!

12.) Harvey’s current apartment (including season 4, ep.16 “Not Just A Pretty Face”; and season 7 ep. 10 “Donna”)

Full credit for solving this mystery goes to my friend @ireneirm when the brilliant Torontoist articles (see links below) couldn’t help (and whose photo is the one above). This location, at 80 John Street, remains Harvey’s current residence on screen, recognisable from his arrival home in the season 4 finale, after dropping the “You Know I Love You” bomb on Donna, as well as the scene of his confrontation with Malik in the season 7 mid-season finale. It almost looks the same, but the blue rock-like circles on the wall you can see behind the lobby desk have been recently removed.

13.) Mike & Rachel’s apartment (seen most in season 6)

We saw this location, at 3 Church Street, mostly during season six, including 6.01 when Harvey is waiting for Rachel to return after dropping Mike off at Danbury and when Harvey gets Mike out of prison for a few hours in the hope seeing Rachel will make him see sense and take the deal on the table. It’s also literally around the corner from the legal clinic location.

14.) Donna’s current apartment exterior (season 8, episode 12 “Whale Hunt”)

Season has seen a third exterior used for Donna’s apartment, this one located at 88 Scott, just below the corner of Yonge Street & Colborne Street and seen during the scene where she returns home from her date with Thomas Kessler. The road was under construction during my trip this year, but from the photos you can (just about) see it’s the right place, especially the crests on the wall either side of the door. However, this does make me think that if they need an exterior scene outside Donna’s in season 9, then perhaps they’ll return to the last one!

15.) Jessica’s apartment (including season 6, episode 2 “Accounts Payable”)

The rather grand exterior to Jessica Pearson’s apartment was seen in season six when Harvey picked her up to take her to the office and when Jack Soloff later came looking for his buy-in money. The stone arch is instantly recognisable from the scenes and is located at Prince Arthur Condos, 38 Avenue Road.

16.) Alex Williams’s apartment exterior (season 8, ep. “Right-Hand Man”)

One of the newer additions to the Suits gang, but we’ve already seen Harvey pay a visit to Alex’s home, greeting him on his return from his morning run. I instantly recognised it on screen from my trip last year and went back to take this photo this summer. can be found at 37 Front Street East which is not far from a few other locations on this list!

There are also a few other key locations that are well worth a visit!

17.) Mike’s church (season 5, episode 16 “25th Hour”)

We’d seen Mike visit his church before, both in the present and in flashback, but it’s probably best known for being the scene of the almost wedding of Mike and Rachel in the season five finale, before Mike went off to prison. The location is St Paul’s Basilica, located at the corner of Power Street & Queen Street East. It was closed when I visited, so I couldn’t take any interior photos.

18.) “Teeth, Nose, Teeth” – where Harvey & Louis have a heart to heart (season 6, episode 13 “Teeth, Nose, Teeth”)

I loved this scene from the show and so a visit was a must for me. The location for this funny scene, in which Louis asks Harvey for relationship advice, is Batch, a fantastic place for craft beer and food. It was also used for the scene in which Samantha Wheeler tricks her opponent with the help of Alex’s teenage daughter in season 8.

Tip – The Batch Burger is very good (as are the chunky chips). I’d also recommend one of the beers brewed on site, which included Maibock when I was there this summer.

Batch, 75, Victoria Street –

19.) Marcus’s restaurant (season 8, episode 5 “Good Mudding”)

Before my trip this year, I’d been hoping to find the location used for Marcus’s restaurant, but it seems that two different places have already been used and therefore this one, Cibo Wine Bar, which I managed to locate using my best detective skills, is the one seen most recently in season 8, when Harvey travels to help Marcus with his divorce. It definitely isn’t the same one used for the fabulous scene between Harvey and his mother in season 7, which is somewhere I’d still love to find, but it was satisfying to tick this off the list!

Tip – The food was great here. I can recommend the carpaccio, fettuccine with shrimp, tiramisu & the peach sangria cocktail!

Cibo Wine Bar, 522 King St. West –

20.) Marcus asks Harvey for money to start a restaurant (season 4, ep. 16 “Not Just A Pretty Face”)

Before Marcus had made a success of his restaurant, he needed money to open it and of course, the first person he asked for help was his brother, who was still a young district attorney at the time. The scene was filmed at The Gabardine, which is a small, but fantastic place to eat, which is literally around the corner from the office lobby!

Tip – the place gets busy at lunch time with office workers, so either book, or get there early and perch at the bar.

The Gabardine, 372 Bay Street –

21.) Harvey visits the cemetery to share a drink with his father (season 2, episode 8 “Rewind”)

In the largely flashback episode of season 2, we saw Harvey take a trip out of town, only to discover later that his destination was the cemetery to visit his father’s grave. This was filmed at the Toronto Necropolis, with the white archway at its entrance very recognisable.

Toronto Necropolis, 200 Winchester Street

22.) The 100th & Donna and Louis each head for a hotel rendezvous (season 7, episode 8 “100”)

I’ve chosen the 100th to refer to this location, but on a rewatch you notice just how often the Fairmont Royal York hotel has been used in Suits, mainly when meeting clients, but as we saw here, it was where both Donna and Louis arrived to meet dates they shouldn’t. As well as the entrance, you’ll likely have noticed the hotel’s old-fashioned clock at the centre of a spiral staircase. Sadly this clock and staircase have been removed in the recent refurbishment and replaced by a new bar in the centre of the lobby, complete with a new clock.

Tip – if you do have time for a cocktail, the Reign bar (at the side of the lobby) had some fantastic cocktails, including a lovely White Russian!

Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front Street West – Fairmont Royal York

23.) Mike’s legal clinic (seen during the back half of season 6 and season 7)

Following his release from prison, Mike took a job at a legal clinic, which introduced us to new characters and new conflicts with PSL. Filmed at 74, The Esplanade, this location is also literally around the corner from where Mike and Rachel’s apartment exterior was filmed!

24.) Mike & Trevor at university (season 3, ep. 6 “The Other Time”)

It was in flashback where we got to see the story Mike described to Harvey in the pilot, the story of how he’d been kicked out of college. Typically it was all Trevor’s fault (he was so awful, wasn’t he?!). The scene in which Trevor is apprehended by campus security/police for selling the maths test was filmed on location at the Quad at University College, which is open for public access, as well as students.

The Quad at University College, 15 King’s College Circle

25.) Harvey’s encounter with Anita Gibbs, where he asks about Mike getting in to the Bar (season 6, episode 11 “She’s Gone”)

Following Mike’s release from prison, a legal career seemed unlikely, but Harvey attempted to try and get Anita Gibbs on side, something that didn’t really work out the way he’d hoped! This scene was filmed at Market Street Balzac’s, a really lovely coffee shop, which is also around the corner from the legal clinic location!

Market Street Balzac’s, 10, Market Street –

26.) Jessica and Harvey’s heated discussion about the possible merger with Darby International (season 2, episode 16 “War”)

Oh, poor Harvey. This was the moment when he gambled on the merger with Darby failing, only for Jessica to get the better of him. It’s here where he agreed to extend his non-compete and suck it up if things didn’t go his way and it was filmed outside Commerce Court, 199 Bay Street.

27.) Person Hardman’s last big party (season 2, episode 16 “War”)

The outside may have been at Commerce Court, but the inside location for the firm’s party was filmed at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, which included the deleted scene of Donna in the stunning black outfit talking to Scottie. This was also the location for the scene in which Harvey asks Scottie whether she told the authorities about Mike in season 5, episode 11. It’s always worth seeing if they have any shows on during your stay in the city.

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen Street West –

28.) The first appearance of Scottie (season 1, episode 7 “Play The Man”)

The first time we met Scottie was way back in season 1, when she was Harvey’s opposing counsel. It was clear that there was history there and that things were about to get interesting. The scene was filmed in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, 181 Welington Street West. Although some decor has changed, the chandelier & staircase remain.

29.) Rachel really thought Harvey was giving her his lunch?! (Season 2 ep. 13 “Zane vs. Zane”)

This was a lovely scene between these two characters, who’d had little contact until this episode. Seeing Rachel genuinely think he’s offering her his lunch is always fun to watch! The scene, like so many others over the years, was filmed at the back of the Bay Adelaide Centre, on Temperence Street! This was also where the Cloud Gardens location was situated (used for scenes such as Donna talking to Stu in season 8). Sadly the gardens area is gone until 2020, while construction takes place.

30.) Mike guilt trips Donna in to doing the mock trial (season 2 ep. 7 “Sucker Punch”)

An unemployed Donna can’t even go to a yoga class in peace without Mike appearing to convince her to take part in Harvey’s mock trial. Despite her protests, you know she’s going to turn up. The scene was shot just around the corner from Donna’s first apartment exterior, just outside the Black Market on Queen Street West.

Locations you’ll see in season 9!

Sadly, unlike last summer, I didn’t get to see any outdoor filming this year. However, my friend and I were still able to visit a few locations that will be seen on the show in season 9; we just don’t know what the scene will be yet! So, if you’re looking for somewhere to visit and be ahead of the game, then these suggestions are for you!

31.) STK, 153 Yorkville Avenue (coming in 9.05)!

This high-end steak restaurant was used for filming for season 9, episode 5, for what appeared to be a night scene (there were blackout curtains over the windows). We didn’t see any principal cast, just a lot of extras in business formal attire leaving, so who knows what was filmed. Was is Mike and Harvey out for dinner? Darvey? I’ve no idea, but what I do know is that the food is very good (although a bit pricey) and the cocktails are superb!

Tip – The Cucumber Stiletto cocktail is out of this world, as was the Strawberry Cobbler!

STK, 153 Yorkville Avenue –

32.) Buca (Yorkville), 53 Scollard Street

This location was one my friend (the lovely @ireneirm whose photo I’ve borrowed above) tracked down after we saw a scene had been filmed there for season 9, episode 4, involving Louis, Harvey and Donna. It looked like a stylish place, so we made a trip to it for lunch!

Buca (Yorkville), 53 Scollard Street, entrance via Yorkville Avenue, through the Four Seasons courtyard –

Planning your trip yet?!

If, like I did, you’re making plans to go to see the Suits sights, it’s well worth plotting them out on your map. What became very clear to me on doing this, was that the Suits team tend to keep locations close to each other. As an example, Weslodge, Cibo Wine Bar & Citizen are within 5 minutes (the last two are literally next door to each other)! So, with some planning you can easily see lots in a short space of time!

Below you’ll see my map, plotting out all the locations above (see the green numbers, which correspond to the numbers in this post). I’ve included a photo of the full map, so you can see how close together most are, followed by closer-up photos of the map.

Zoomed out map of Downtown Toronto – all locations can be seen on this one.
Close up of the Downtown area, where most of the above locations can be found
map photo – see 2 (The Diner) a bit further out (hop on the 505 bus)
Map photo – highlighting the locations a little further out (15, 17, 21, 24, 31 & 32)

Also, the Citymapper app is invaluable for plotting quickest routes anywhere in the city and the Uber drivers in Toronto were the nicest I’ve ever experienced.

If that’s not enough for you, there are wonderful archived articles from The Torontoist’s Reel Toronto series, highlighting so many locations from the first six seasons of the show & it was from these that I started planning my own trip (those from 7 & 8 I’ve tracked down)! The links to these useful locations guides are all below!

No doubt the final season will include some other notable locations, which hopefully I’ll be able to visit some time in the future! Oh and if you find any others, then I’d love to know!

Season 1

Season 2 Part One

Season 2 Part Two

Season 3 Part One

Season 3 Part Two

Season 4 Part One

Season 4 Part Two

Season 5 Part One

Season 5 Part Two

Season 6 Part One

Season 6 Part Two

Suits season 9 returns in USA Network on 17th July!

Television Review – It’s time to say goodbye to Game of Thrones – 8.06 “The Iron Throne”

And now their watch has ended……

After eight seasons, sadly the words of The Night’s Watch now apply to the millions of Game of Thrones fans (including me) across the globe, following the airing of the series finale, aptly entitled The Iron Throne (although I admit, I was hoping for A Dream of Spring). As I’ve said at the start of my other season 8 reviews, I’ve taken a few days to let the episode sink in; I’ve watched it a number of times now and finally think I can put my thoughts in order on the page.

I know I’m going to be in the minority with this opinion, but I enjoyed the finale and found it to be a satisfying way to leave the world we’ve been exploring since episode one. In fact the more times I watch it, the better I think it is and I say this as someone whose first television love “blessed” me with not one, but two, dreadful series finales.

Anyone still reading?!

Before I dive in to all the levels of this episode, I’ll say again the point I raised last week in my review of The Bells. Do I think the series would have been stronger as a whole had there been eight 10 episode seasons? Without a doubt. There are scenes between characters that I’m sorry we didn’t get to see (Littlefinger & Varys; the Stark sisters hearing about Jon), stories that I’d have loved to have been stretched a bit longer (The Hound & Arya travelling South, Varys’ plotting, lots more Cersei!) and internal emotional struggles of characters that would have been richer had they had more time to be explored (Dany’s disintegration; Jaime’s conflicted struggles both before and in the weeks after he arrived and chose to stay at Winterfell following the battle (no that wasn’t all one night as many keep saying); and Jon dealing fully with who he is). That’s only a few examples and I agree it’s frustrating. Very frustrating, especially when HBO were offering the time and the money! It would, without question, have made the journey to the end fuller and crucially, removed my biggest problem with this season – the sense of rushing through it.

Yet, I’m setting that aside when writing about the finale, instead judging The Iron Throne on its own merits as an episode and for me, it did far more right than it did wrong, meaning it did thankfully leave me feeling satisfied.

……..that said, let’s take a closer look at my reasons for saying that…….

After weeks of rushing ahead, finally the pace slowed down and the story was better for it

Despite all I’ve said about the pace this year, The Iron Throne seemed to take its time and the emotional storylines benefited. Having the opening ten minutes contain very little dialogue and instead focus of the tragedy and reality of Dany’s actions, was unexpected and very welcome, as was the long emotionally-powered character scenes that weren’t rushed at all, but given all the time they needed (Tyrion and Jon’s frank conversation, Jon and Dany’s final moments, Tyrion’s grief, and Brienne’s gesture all being examples). Should all season have been this way? Yes, but I’m relieved the finale managed to find this balance.

A finale that was both dark and yet also hopeful

The Iron Throne was clearly structured to be an episode of two emotional halves; the first one of darkness and the second being one of hope and that choice worked very well. As difficult as it was to see Dany embrace her darker tendencies, I found the myself gripped by how dark the show had become. The tension, as she makes clear the war has only just begun, the devastation everywhere you looked on screen, the painful struggles of grief of Tryion and Jon and the end of one of the show’s most iconic characters. It was powerful television. Yet, somewhat of a surprise to me, the story ended in a place of hope, as we see those still standing start to build a new Westeros. The tone becomes lighter, with time for humour (Tyrion straightening the chairs to no avail, the new Small Council dynamic – I’d watch a season of that show!), before leaving us hopeful for the lives ahead of characters we’ve spent years investing in. It would have been easy to get this balance wrong, but, in my opinion, that didn’t happen.

Tyrion Lannister takes his place back at the heart of the story & breaks my heart along the way

Tyrion is on almost everyone’s list of favourite characters and season eight has seen him have a larger role in the story once again, culminating in a truly superb performance by Peter Dinklage in the finale. Finally slowing the pace of this year down, it’s Tyrion who takes us in to the horror of King’s Landing in the aftermath of Dany’s actions. We seen his pain, his guilt and his horror, as he walks through those streets in near silence, before wandering through rooms that have witnessed so many huge moments in his life, including when his father told him he wanted to drown him at birth, where he and Cersei fought so often and where Small Councils ridiculed him. You feel the weight of history with him as he walks.

And when I didn’t think it could get any worse, instead of looking for Dany, I realised he was searching out the fate of his brother. Sure, there should have been rubble all over that floor, piled high even, but that gripe aside, watching Tyrion understand the fate of his last remaining family, before removing the rubble from their dead bodies as he wept, is one of the most emotional scenes I’ve seen on television or film. I care about Tyrion and I cared about Jaime and therefore I felt his raw, visceral grief and anger and seeing him in such pain, as he knelt beside his lost family was heartbreaking. All in the first ten minutes! I see another Emmy nomination in Dinklage’s future!

From there, we saw Tyrion defy his Queen (I did think he was going to try and kill her for a moment), speak hard truths to Jon Snow (there have been too few long character-driven scenes such as the one between Dinklage and Kit Harington this season) and then go on to shape the structure of the new world. Through his portrayal Dinklage brought humour, sadness and depth out of Tyrion this week and to see him end back in King’s Landing, in the role he excelled at in season 2 was the perfect ending for him. Long live The Imp!

Emilia Clarke ends with perhaps her strongest performance of the whole series

Seeing Dany burn down King’s Landing wasn’t something anyone wanted to see (well, maybe some of you did, who knows), but I’d always suspected this would be where her story would take us. Yes, it would have been for the benefit of the story had we had longer to really see her disintegration (although if I’d lost all the things she lost in a few weeks, I may well have snapped too), as well as more scenes in the aftermath of last week’s actions to try and see her true emotional state and have her justify why she attacked innocent people after they’d surrendered (the fact this was glossed over is one of my big grumbles with 8.06), but she clearly didn’t take pleasure in mass murder. She simply seemed indifferent to it, so perhaps she had truly become so lost in her vision of the future that she was blind to the casualties she was ready to sacrifice along the way. I also found it interesting to hear Tyrion and Jon have the same passionate debate about her, that fans have been engaging in all week!

What is clear though, is the tremendous acting of Emilia Clarke. She’s helped create an iconic, unforgettable, screen character and her performance in 8.06 was arguably her best of the whole series. She was frightening in those opening scenes and yet I saw glimpses of the young woman from earlier seasons in the moments before she died, which made her end all the more heartbreaking. Would I have wanted this to end differently, to see her break the wheel in more the way it is actually broken by the end? Of course, but despite how her story ended, Daenerys Targaryen will always be one of the most pivotal characters in the story and Clarke has simply been superb from start to finish.

An unlikely King, but when you think about it, it makes surprising sense

So, I wasn’t one of the people who predicted Bran being chosen as King and I admit that my initial reaction was surprise and amusement. Bran? He’s done nothing all season and now he gets to he King?! Really?! and that name? Bran the Broken? You couldn’t think of something a bit nicer, Tyrion?! Yet, when I took time to think about it, the choice does make sense. After centuries of war and power-mad rulers sitting on The Iron Throne, who better to lead Westeros in to the future, than someone who has no interest in power, or titles and who has the knowledge of all the past mistakes. Hell, even Tywin acknowledged that a good King should be wise and Bran has more wisdom than anyone else. I also appreciated the little costume detail for King Bran The Broken (still hate the name though) – he’s the first recognised ruler in Westeros we’ve seen who doesn’t appear to wear a crown, emphasising the fact he’s not doing it for the status.

It seems he’s also settled more in to his dual existence as both Bran and The Three-Eyed Raven by the end, even managing slight bemusement at his Small Council’s salute. Plus, could he have a better Small Council to help him? Sam, Davos, Brienne, Bronn and Tyrion – heck, that’s a good portion of my favourite characters. Go off looking for Drogon, Bran Stark, the realm is in safe hands!

A Song of Ice & Fire – at its heart, was always the story of the Starks

We all started this journey with the Starks. They were the family we cared about, invested in and mourned with, through every loss and defeat. There were times when it seemed House Stark would be crushed. Yet, this finale reminded us that this story has really always had this pack at its heart and at the end, they were thriving – each exactly where they were meant to be (blimey Bran’s rubbing off on me!) and that final montage, following Arya, Jon and Sansa as they each start along their new paths was incredibly moving and beautifully edited.

Seeing Arya embrace her identity again, sailing off in to unknown adventures, with a direwolf sigil flying proud on her sails made me smile. Hearing the hall of Northmen rally to the cries of “Queen in the North” for Sansa (notably the last words spoken on the series too), finally in control of her own fate after years being controlled and abused by others, made me proud of how far she’d come from that annoying brat in early season one, which leaves Jon…….

Jon Snow, having always done the right thing, no matter the personal cost, finally finds his place

I know many wanted Jon to be King at the end of the show and I admit, I thought it might happen (if he didn’t die along the way). It would have been bittersweet (and we knew to expect such an ending), as he certainly didn’t want the crown. He’d never really wanted to lead anyone. Instead, like the other Starks, Jon Snow, the character who didn’t let any House words define him, found his place. The seeds were sown early in the year when Tormund said Jon had the real north in him and he admitted that he wished he was going with him, when Tormund took the Wildlings back home beyond The Wall. After years being the reluctant leader, first of the Night’s Watch, then of the North, fighting endless battles along the way, Jon seemed exhausted by this episode, weighed down by everything he’s experienced and killing Dany clearly broke him (he seemed ready and willing for Drogon to end his life in the Throne Room and still seemed hollow on his arrival back at Castle Black) and Kit Harington was fantastic throughout this last chapter of Jon’s story. I never felt the emotional connection between Jon and Dany (another casualty of the rushing), but the actors nailed that final scene.

As Jaime Lannister could have told him, killing your King, or Queen, even if done for the greater good, will leave an indelible mark on your name. Had Jon been applauded for saving the kingdom, I’d have felt it unrealistic. Was anyone expecting him to stay at The Wall? Who knows, but that last look back to the gate, as it closed behind him, seemed to me to be Jon Snow’s way of saying goodbye to his past and seeing him ride off with Tormund, Ghost (the reunion we’d all been hoping for) and the Wildlings, in to woods no longer filled with the danger of the Army of the Dead thanks to him, seemed the most fitting end to his story.

Ser Brienne of Tarth, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard – a beloved character who deserved to achieve her greatest dream

Brienne is one of the few characters in Game of Thrones who has always been truly honourable and since her introduction I’ve grown to love her and root for her to show the world how incredible a woman she is. Therefore, one of the highlights of this finale for me was seeing Brienne taking her place first as one of those representatives tasked with choosing the next ruler, and then on the Small Council, where she can help build a better future for the citizens of The Six Kingdoms (that still sounds odd to me). Who better to be Commander of Bran’s Kingsguard?

Having been knighted in 8.02 (one of the best scenes in the series for me) as a knight of the realm, once Sansa split the north away from the other kingdoms, it made sense to me that Brienne would step up in this way. Sansa has the support of the entire North again. She’s home and safe, so Brienne can move on to serve and protect another of Catelyn’s children. She wanted to be a knight, she wanted to serve the realm and she’s always wanted to do good. If any character deserved to see their dreams come true in a world were we are used to that rarely happening, it was Brienne. The fact it is Brienne, who gets to take over from Jaime Lannister in her new role, is the final piece of the puzzle (I don’t count The Mountain).

Speaking of Jaime, the scene I’d said for years that I wanted to see if he really had to die, was Brienne filling his pages in the Kingsguard book with his good deeds. Ever since vile Joffrey mocked him for his empty pages and Brienne read the words, I’ve wondered if this would be part of the ending. Personally, I loved it and it was the scene that made me the most emotional this week. I know many have grumbled about Brienne doing this after Jaime left her in 8.04, seeing it as a woman serving the story of a man, but that’s not how I see this plot line at all. Yes, it completed Jaime’s story and yes, she perhaps described the events in the most favourable way, but bear in mind for his entire adult life, he was viewed in a negative light for an action which, like Jon’s, was for the greater good. Seeing the devastation Dany caused only reinforced just how significant his choice was when he killed the Mad King. Yes, he broke Brienne’s heart and I hated it (putting them together in 8.04 both gave me what I wanted, while also giving me what I didn’t – thanks again to the rushing), but I also loved that be giving us this scene, they also brought to the forefront again, how special Brienne is.

She has always done what was just and honourable and has always believed in the good in people and it was because of her that many of the deeds she added to the book even happened! Jaime may have hurt her, but we saw she wasn’t bitter and wanted the good he did to be recorded. She didn’t let his last action cancel out all the others. I also loved that it was clear in that scene that she still cared deeply for him and had forgiven him for being unable to leave his past behind. Why do I say that? She still carried Oathkeeper; in such a sparse room there was a lion statue prominent on the table behind her; and the music playing over the scene was (I think) a blend of “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” (played when she was knighted) and “I Am Hers, She Is Mine” (which has accompanied scenes with both Robb/Tulisa and Tyrion/Shae), reinforcing the special connection they shared. Add to that, the beautiful performance by Gwendoline Christie (she better be nominated for awards); you see the emotion Brienne is holding back in her eyes as she writes, as she takes her time to complete her task, all before she runs her hand over the page gently before closing it. Yes, it gives Jaime closure and honour again, but it also is a testament to who she is as a person. If we were all a little more like Brienne, we’d all be better for it.

Few characters so richly deserved to end their story with all the respect and status they’d always dreamed of. I’m only sad we won’t get to see all the good deeds that she will do, that will fill her own pages.

A final musical chapter for television’s most ambitious soundtrack

I’m a big fan of film and television scores and few are ever as impressive as this one and a consistent comment about season eight from me and many others, has been just how incredible Ramin Djawadi’s score has been. Over the years, he has created beautiful themes for characters, Houses, while setting the mood for every political manoeuvre and shredding our nerves while watching every battle.

Season eight has seen him play with themes to great emotional effect and The Iron Throne was no different. His slower rendition of The Rains of Castamere, associated so heavily with the violence of The Red Wedding, heightened Tyrion’s grief and I’ve already spoken above about his delicate way of bringing the history of Jaime and Brienne’s relationship in to the story’s end. Dany’s tragic end contained callbacks to her and Jon’s theme and we also had the rousing farewell to the Starks, blending the theme most associated with their House, with the series’s theme, while also throwing in echoes of their past (Arya sailed away to echoes of the same theme she had at the end of season 4 for example). Few shows have scores that are so ingrained in the emotions of the scenes, that you can see them as you listen to the music on its own, but season 8’s music in particular certainly achieves this. Ramin, please hurry up and announce international dates for the next Game of Thrones music tour! Until then, I’ll have the albums on my constant playlist!

A visual masterpiece, setting a new bar for television & film!

Even those less happy with this season have agreed that visually, nothing compares to Game of Thrones, in terms of the quality of the cinematography, visual effects and overall production values. In a way, I think we’ve become complacent about how each episode has a visual quality that surpasses not just other television shows, but most films too and the finale certainly didn’t drop the ball in this area.

We had the terrifying images of Dany addressing her armies, the breathtaking image of her literally being a dragon, as Drogon’s wings unfolded behind her, the haunting echoes of her vision of coming face to face with the throne and the incredible framing of her death in Jon’s arms. Drogon has now become so realistic, that you simply accept that there’s a huge dragon on screen, screaming at the loss of its mother, nudging her lifeless body and then unleashing fire, finally removing the damn throne from the world! Plus, that Stark montage? Gorgeous. I only hope this series has set the bar for other shows to try and surpass in the future.

Then there were all the little nods / call backs to the last eight years…..

Okay, I admit, I didn’t pick up on all of these on the first viewing and I assume I’ve not even noticed them all yet, but the series finale was full of nods to the show’s past, some obvious and some wonderfully subtle. There were the breathtaking costume choices (look at Sansa’s coronation dress – weirwood leaves, dire wolves and fish scales, to represent every aspect of her heritage), the old jokes (Tyrion is clearly never meant to finish that brothel joke, while Stannis’ influence on Davos’ grammar remains strong). Lord Varys was also annoyingly correct that the history books won’t mention Tyrion (boo!), although giving the book the obvious title was a bit cheesy, while Tyrion has gone from the rebel in the Small Council dragging the chairs around, to the man leading a group of his own choosing.

We had Greyworm keeping his promise to Missandei and heading to the beaches of Naath, while Arya, the girl who was once no one, sailed away proudly declaring she was a Stark. We also saw a nod to how The Iron Throne is described in George R.R. Martin’s books when Dany recalls what she’d heard about it, a possible appearance by Hoyland Reed at the Dragonpit gathering, as well as a nod to Martin’s as-yet unwritten seventh book, A Dream of Spring, with the green shoot visible through the snow, as Jon leaves The Wall, as well as a mirror of how episode one began, as the gates of Castle Black rose to let him pass through. Each one of these made the conclusion to the series more satisfying for me. Feel free to point out all the ones I’ve missed!

Looking forward, by looking backwards

It’s sad to end this post without being able to speculate on what will happen in the next episode. Instead, we have a number of prequels in various stages of development to look forward to. They are all being made with HBO, so the production quality should remain and George R.R Martin is involved too, in some more than others. We don’t know much yet, other than the rumours that the first of these prequels to go in to production is going to look at the first Long Night. The casting for this series also has me hopeful, as it contains some of my favourite stage actors (especially Denise Gough, John Heffernan). Nothing can replace Game of Thrones for me in this world; the characters are just too special, but I’ll certainly be tuning in.


I might write a few posts reflecting on various aspects of the series, now that the story and the characters’ journeys can be viewed as a whole, but for now, I’ll end by saying, that despite my sadness that season eight was so short, when there was enough rich material to give us so much more, I’m satisfied with how the story ended. Overall, it made sense to me, even the elements that I’d loved to have turned out differently (I’m looking at you Jaime and Dany). Few shows grab my attention the way this one has (it was after season two that I read the books) and few stories have offered me so many incredibly complex and compelling characters to invest in emotionally. It’ll be a series I return to many times in the future and it will undoubtably remain one of my favourites and for that I’m grateful to everyone who has had a hand in its creation.

…….Is it too soon for a rewatch…………?

Game of Thrones may have ended, but don’t forget that the two hour documentary, charting the making of this final season airs next Sunday on HBO in the USA and next Monday on Sky Atlantic in the UK. Watch the trailer for it here:

(All screenshots owned by HBO/Game of Thrones)