Television Review – Suits 8.16 “Harvey” (shouldn’t that really be Darvey)?!

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Welcome to the final Thursday in a few months that is Suits day! After six weeks, we’ve reached the season 8 finale. It’s bittersweet, as this is the last time it is a season finale. Next time it’ll be the end.

I was unsure what Suits would be like this year, with three original characters leaving the story (one at least for good), but overall, I’ve throughly enjoyed season 8. We’ve been introduced to a fabulous new character in Samantha Wheeler, have got to know Alex better, especially in these last few episodes after the silly named partner war was over, when he’s really had more of an opportunity to get involved, we’ve seen Louis mature in to the best person to lead the firm, experienced Katrina’s ups and downs as she climbs the ladder of seniority (I’m forgetting the Brian thing) and we’ve seen Donna and Harvey delve in to their emotions in new ways, both separately and together…….very together (I’ll get to it, obviously!). I’m left feeling a little sad that there’s only a finite time left with these characters, but I look back on season 8 much more positively than negatively and that’s all I can hope for with any show.

So……………let’s delve in to the detail!

Samantha’s horrifying past & it’s effect on both her and Robert 

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Over the last 15 episodes, we’ve learnt quite a lot about Samantha Wheeler and way back in 8.04 we knew she’d been through a similar experience to Louis’s mugging and that Robert helped her afterwards. This week, we were able to see just how horrifying an experience that was for her and how she did not want to be a victim, instead determined to seek her own justice when the system failed her. Katherine Heigl has really done a fantastic job with her character, so that I actually do care about her and I’m interested to know more about her (for example, we still don’t know the detail of her military service) and what was lovely about this story, was that it showed us just how special her bond with Robert is. Yes, it’s similar to Harvey’s with Jessica in some ways, but theirs is still very much like father/daughter and seeing them fighting for each other this week (as well as Harvey) was thoroughly enjoyable.

If this is farewell, then it’s been a pleasure Robert Zane

 

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(Photo by: Shane Mahood/USA Network)

I had suspected that we might be seeing the last of Robert Zane this year. Why? First, there were the story hints – his pain and shock at the sudden death of an old adversary, him stepping aside for Louis without much of a fight and this week, we saw just how much he was ready to give up to secure a deal with Daniel Hardman (half his client list and a slice of his equity stream is no small sacrifice). Then there was the fact that Wendell Pierce will be here in London from March until the end of June acting in the theatre, therefore unavailable for a good chunk of filming. Therefore, his possible departure didn’t come as a surprise.

True, it’s ironic that, had he taken Eric Kaldor up on his offer and retired, then he wouldn’t have ended up being disbarred. Honestly, I wish they’d gone with that, but I get it, the hearing scenario makes better dramatic television. Seeing another fabulous character sacrifice their reputation for Harvey (and here, Donna) didn’t sit well with me, but at least they linked this in with Robert’s need to make amends for his past. He’d already alluded to that with Louis when he admitted to being part of an attack when he was younger and had felt guilt for that ever since, which has clearly been added to by what he did for Samantha. As Alex said, sometimes you just need to take the burden off, no matter what it costs you. I particularly loved Dule Hill’s scenes with Wendell Pierce this week and his look of sadness from the stand as Robert said he was trying to make right what he did, was so lovely.

If this is the last we see of Robert Zane (I’m hoping he comes back for the end in some form), then I say thanks to Wendell Pierce for being such a wonderful addition to this show over the years. Oh……and thanks Robert, for turning down Harvey’s burger offer! We are in your debt!

A not unwelcome return for Daniel Hardman

I was never a huge fan of Hardman and the last time he reappeared I sighed. Yet, this time, I really enjoyed his meddling. He’s such a great villain and he openly loves being vindictive! His scenes with Louis and Harvey helped up the ante and through the flashback with Zane, we were able to see another side of him. By the end, I wonder if he thinks it was worth it, as what he did cost his friend his career. I assume this is the last we’ll see of David Costabile, but as we head towards the end of the series, it was actually fun this time to revisit this particular past foe.

……………….

As for the rest……..well………

It was all about Darvey (no, not Harvey……Darvey………)

I feel as though I need to take a very deep breath before diving in to the rest of this week’s episode’s content! Where to start when I’ve been speechless for hours since I first watched it! Did it really happen? Before we get to THAT ending, there were so many other strong scenes in 8.16, all of which were written in a way that reinforced the episode’s overarching theme – that of Harvey finally opening his eyes to his feelings for Donna and of bringing these two complicated adults together, at long last! As each one happened, I found myself thinking, “Oh that was a great scene, that’ll probably be my favourite”! Special shout out to one scene in particular – Harvey Specter throwing cut glass around his office while swearing is hot as hell and he should do it much more often (plus the shocked look on Louis’s face and the guilt and pain on Donna’s as they watched were so good)!

1. It took an army to FINALLY tip the scales in Harvey’s mind when it came to Donna

After watching 8.16, it’s no wonder poor Mike, the original Darvey champion, never succeeded in bringing his pseudo parents together. He was just one man (even Rachel wasn’t as bold as him). In order for Harvey to finally wake up, it’s needed a small army. We’ve already had Scottie planting some Darvey seeds in both their minds and this week almost every character played a part in Harvey Specter finally knocking on Door 206!

Louis / Robert / Samantha / Alex and hell, even Thomas helped along the way this week and after each interaction I found myself thinking, surely this is it, this is what tips him over the edge. Harvey and Louis’s scenes this week were a pleasure (I love their bromance, I really do) and not only did we see Louis try and save his friend through his pleas to Thomas, but then we had Harvey verbalise that him telling Donna was the same as if Louis had wanted to tell Sheila. So, she’s effectively your wife, Harvey?! Plus, Louis accepted it without blinking. Oh and a side observation – did Harvey leave Louis is his home, or has Louis been taught the secret way of breaking in to Casa Specter?!

We also had Robert and Alex declare how what truly mattered was going home to the women they love. Alex, in particular, was clearly trying to hint to his friend that he should be doing the same, especially after he’d already acted as the Mike Ross of this week, by helping Donna to face up to the truth of her choices when it came to Thomas and Harvey. I loved their scene, as it reinforced everything I’ve said in the last few weeks about her reasons for getting involved with Thomas. It wasn’t really about trying to make Harvey jealous (well, not totally), it was about her trying to move on, but in that scene with Alex you could see her accept the love she has for him.

We had Thomas question Harvey about why he wanted to protect Donna. True, he didn’t say how he felt, but it was another scene in which Harvey had to verbalise how special she is to him. Thomas was then also kind enough to fill his girlfriend in on just what Harvey was willing to do for her. Hard luck Thomas, you were a decent guy, but thanks for your Darvey contribution. Maybe they’ll choose your furniture company for their wedding list in return!

And lastly there was Samantha, who was the last domino, setting off the chain reaction to follow. Having her talk about how important Robert was to her and it starting as a comparison of Harvey’s relationship with Jessica was very clever, before it shifted in to being a parallel to what he has with Donna – the person who loves him despite all his flaws and who he wants in good times and bad (including at that hearing, when he noticed she wasn’t there). It’s funny that she didn’t say anything that was more revelatory than, say, Mike has in the past, yet it was this chat that was the final lightbulb moment. Maybe it was the emotion of the day, or the build-up was finally too much, but what matters is the effect. He finally seemed to believe that Donna might love him and he wanted to find out. The fact that Katherine Heigl is a Darvey shipper herself, made this all the more fun!

2. 8.16 – the episode where Harvey Specter’s development finally all came together!!

I fully admit that I’ve been frustrated with Harvey over season 8 (although nowhere near as much as I was in 7A!) and it seemed clear to me that in order for him and Donna to finally take that next step, he needed to show her how he loved her and that he was ready. Over the course of 8.16, aptly entitled Harvey, we were treated to moment after moment of Harvey showing the audience how much he loved her, before finally showing  her too.

It started early out of the gate – after Donna’s seeming betrayal, old Harvey would have been angry and harboured resentment. There’d likely have been shouting. This time, he was controlled with her and calm. He didn’t lash out. We then learnt that as part of his plan to help save her boyfriend’s deal, he went to Travis Tanner for help! Sure, the last time he appeared he seemed to have turned over a new leaf, but still, with their history?! That’s a pretty astonishing act.

Not only that, but his love for her meant protecting her above himself was all he cared about. Seeing him go to Thomas and rather than yell at him for screwing them all over (albeit for moral reasons), to watch him calmly ask him to lie to protect Donna was stunning. It’s when I really knew he’d finally made peace with how he felt. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is (and Thomas knew that too – pity Paula hadn’t been so smart)!

And then he took those final steps in fighting for her and it was utterly incredible to see unfold!

3……….which leads us to THAT scene…….!!

I doubt many scenes would warrant their own special section in a review, but those last 2 minutes of 8.16 sure as hell do! Personally, I’d gone in to this simply hoping for progress, some admission of feelings, an emotional hug, maybe a kiss if I was really lucky. I never in a million years expected THIS! Who did? From the state of my Twitter feed, it seems no one! Darvey fans around the world seemed to sit communally with their mouths open (other than when they were shouting, or swearing)!

First and foremost – Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty were superb. In a scene where not a single word was spoken, they conveyed every single emotion so clearly. The fact they are so close and have lived and breathed these characters and their relationship for so long certainly helped, but it still needs actors of their quality to bring it to life.

 

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Gabriel is a master at speaking without words and seeing the realisation dawn on Harvey that maybe Donna loved him as much as he’d accepted he loved her, was gorgeous. Then watching him literally run to her, through the firm’s hallways, in to the elevator, stumbling slightly on his way in to it, to a cab (no time for Ray here) and then the way he flew around those hallways to her door. He was a man on a mission! To follow that with such vulnerability as she opened the door (just look at his face again!) as he almost staggers in his rush to get to her, followed by such raw passion and love, all without words was magnificent work!

Sarah Rafferty is also strong in scenes where there are no words (the moment she learnt about Paula sticks out in my mind) and I loved the choices they made for Donna here – the look of tiredness and confusion as she opens the door, followed by the moment you see her understand that he’s ready and begin to smile. Yet, the best choice was the steps backwards, those slow, deliberate steps, without breaking their eye contact. It screamed: “I’m here, I’m ready, if you are too, come and show me.”

As for the rest of it, well…….. it’s possibly the sexiest television I’ve seen. I’ve joked for years how I’d love Darvey to match the passion of a certain couple in The Good Wife (I’ll say no more for those yet to see that), but I never thought I’d see it! It was perfect – initial vulnerability becoming passionate, loving, tasteful and so damn sexy! Plus, seeing Harvey let her lead him off, as if he’s in a daze was the icing on the cake! Tops marks to director Chris Misiano and the editor for all the choices made on this sequence!

Looking ahead…….

I’ve rambled long enough and I plan to write a separate post about my Wishlist for season 9, but I’ll say simply here, now that Darvey are together, I’m excited to see them navigate a personal relationship over the course of this last 10-episode season. There is so much potential for them and indeed for the other characters too (will Louis become a father, will Samantha get over the loss of Robert, will Katrina thrive without the need for sketchy relationships with the wrong men?). Whatever is to come, we don’t have too long to wait, with season 9 likely to start some time around July!

I cannot wait!

Photos: USA Network

Darvey collage: @lovedarvey

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Suits – The Challenge of Darvey

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

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

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

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

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

So…….let’s start at the beginning…………

The Story So Far & Why We’re Still Waiting

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

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

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1. Harvey Wasn’t Ready

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The reconciliation that was a long time coming

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

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

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

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2. Donna Wasn’t Ready

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

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

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

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The early Darvey days!

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

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

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

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

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Donna searching for more in 6.16

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

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

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

The Season 7 Cruelty! 

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

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

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

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Donna & Harvey summed up in one shot

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

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

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

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

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It was inevitable

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

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

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

We sadly all know the answer………

The Darvey Delaying Tactics Really Begin

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

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7B gave us some superb angst!

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

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

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The Season seven finale had so much potential

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

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

…….which brings us to……….

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

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

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

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Business as usual to start 8A

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

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

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

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

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

……and here comes the But!

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

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From one emotional extreme to the other in 8A

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

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

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

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

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A confusing way to end 8A

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

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

…….which leaves me to the future………

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Time for Harvey to step up in 8B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Television Review – Suits 8.05 “Good Mudding” – A very personal, yet fun episode

We’re now halfway through this initial run of season 8 of Suits and every week (well, bar 8.02) takes the series from strength to strength. I had high hopes for 8.05 from everything we’d already heard about it and it didn’t disappoint.

There’s a lot to unpack this week, but the key theme was not professional, but personal, as the domestic lives of multiple characters were explored, with one theme binding them all – the question of how to be a good parent and how hard that is. Although I love the office game playing on this show, most of my favourite episodes revolve around the characters’ personal lives and this week was another shining example of how good that can be.

So, let’s break it down, shall we?

Has Harvey Specter’s emotional growth ever been clearer? I don’t think so!

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First point on the list is to say bravo to Gabriel Macht, who was excellent this week. Any opportunity to show a more emotional side of Harvey that he’s given, he takes and runs with and this week was no exception. Knowing we were getting more of the Specter family was what I’d been most excited to see in 8.05 and it was a treat.

Not only did we have some lovely moments between Harvey and his brother (more Billy Miller please), giving us even more insight in to how their family’s problems have at times strained their relationship, but it was also lovely to meet Harvey’s sister-in-law and see her interact with the Specter brothers. One question though, did Marcus not cheat? Was that just a cover as he was too afraid to tell Harvey that what he’d actually done was gamble and ask his daughter to keep it a secret? Surely he didn’t do all three?!

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As well as Marcus’s issues with parenting, we also saw the return of Lily, who was actually able to get through to Harvey in a meaningful way, without an argument, in order to help both her sons. A few years ago such a scene would have been unimaginable and that’s the key point here. It’s been clear recently how much Harvey has developed on an emotional level; he’s been openly kinder to people and more willing to express himself and all of that progress was on display in 8.05. We saw him explode at his brother, only to come to understand that life isn’t black and white and even manage to convey the importance of forgiveness to his sister-in-law about lies and deception. This truly is a changed man and to cap it off, he was able to admit how difficult the situation had been for him. Hearing him tell Donna that it had taken a piece of him stunned me at his readiness to share such vulnerability with her.

I’m more excited than ever to see what these leaps forward will mean for his relationship with everyone in his life, but especially with a certain red-head……..(more on them later)!

Good Mudding No More For Louis

He may not have a family yet, but this week, it was time for Louis to face the harsh reality that having children requires sacrifice. We knew someone gave up something significant in 8.05 and suspected it would be Louis, but I admit, I expected it to be something more serious than mudding! The again, mudding is pretty damn serious if you’re Louis Litt!

With the Specter storyline brining the more emotional scenes this week and after last week being so tough for him, 8.05 saw Louis’s plot bringing back the comedy that Suits is always so good at (and which was greatly lacking in season 7) through Louis’s very real struggle to let go of what has always been his best stress reliever. Mind you, he really can rejoin the mud club in a few weeks / months, so it’s not that big a deal really. Oh and Louis being turned on by property prices? Brilliant!

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I’ve not been a big fan of Sheila recently (in fact, I’ve grown to dislike her and her messing with Louis’s emotions) but, to my surprise, I found myself agreeing with her this week. We all know having children was not something she wanted and now she’s come around to the idea, it really is understandable that she’d be annoyed by Louis’s inability to give up one thing, when she has to sacrifice A LOT. Do I think these two actually having a child is the best idea? Not at the moment, as I’m still not sold on their relationship, but if that’s the path, then they both need to make sacrifices and Louis had to hear that, although she could have been more honest about it, rather than manipulating him behind his back to set him up.

Most of Louis’s scenes may have been comedic this week, but my favourite and one that brought a tear to my eye was Donna giving him that mug. It was so sweet. What a gorgeous friendship they have.

Yet again, I loved Samatha Wheeler

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In what I assume will continue to be a recurring theme this season, Good Mudding also saw conflict arising between Alex and Samantha, this time on a personal level, with Alex struggling as a parent and seeking Samantha’s help with his teenage daughter. True, the example she was setting wasn’t fluffy and was a little shady, but what was he expecting?! He really is appalling at understanding people’s personalities isn’t he? Having said that, I didn’t think what she did was that terrible!

We were also given yet another glimpse in to her past. We already know she was assaulted and now we know her childhood wasn’t an easy one. I’m curious to see how these two puzzle pieces fit together as we continue to get to know the enigmatic Ms. Wheeler. Mind you, it also highlights to me that soon we’ll know more about Samantha’s past than we do about Donna’s, which is quite frustrating!

I’ve missed Suits being this fun!

As I said earlier, in recent seasons Suits seemed to lose a lot of its humour and this week reminded me of how, in years gone by, the show used to make me laugh more than it has recently. So, thank you Sharyn Rothstein for writing an episode full of so much fun! Who’d have thought we’d have ever seen Harvey and Louis actually discussing what turns them on and Gabriel and Rick had me laughing out loud! Tomatoes, Harvey? You couldn’t think of anything better?! Then, in one of the best scenes of the week, we were treated to some A+ punning from Donna at Louis’s expense. You could see how much fun Sarah Rafferty was having! Even a lot of Samatha’s interplay with Alex’s daughter was fun. Please, writers, let’s keep up the humour and fun in the show from now on!

Harvey & Donna – freely talking about their kinky past, but sure, they’re just friends……..

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Ahhh Darvey, you continue to make me laugh and cry (in frustration) in equal measure! Season 7 was rocky and, as I’ve already mentioned in previous reviews for this season, these last few episodes have seen them more comfortable than ever with one another. So comfortable in fact that it seems they now not only have no problem brining up The Other Time (you know, the night they were never to talk about again), but can freely joke about the intimate, kinky details of it too…..right there in the office…….the professional place that was the main reason for Donna’s rule……..but you know, they’re just friends everyone! Nothing to see here!

Plus, on top of this exchange, we also had the all too short phone call, where Harvey had been through the emotional wringer and wanted to share that with one person – Donna. Could that conversation have been any more like a married couple?! Seriously, can we just lock them in a room together to work this out, or better yet, in an elevator, which after all the scenes that have taken place this season by the elevators would be the ideal tie-in! They have to be endgame. How on earth can they go anywhere else at this point?!

It was written and directed by women! 

It’s the icing on the cake that such an enjoyable episode was not only written by a woman, but was also directed by one too. Sharyn Rothstein is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers on the series, already behind one of my favourites (season 6’s The Painting), as well as acting as story editor for many episodes over the last couple of years and Valerie Weiss has given us some beautifully shot scenes in the past (the end of 7.06 standing out) and this week added more scenes to that list (my favourite perhaps being Donna and Louis at the end). I’m already looking forward to their next contributions to the show.

A couple of cons

Although, overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Good Mudding, there were a couple of cons for me. First, as much as I love Donna acting as everyone’s fixer, she really needs a personal life of her own. I really hope we get to see this soon. Oh and I’m still disappointed in how much I’ve changed my mind on Louis and Sheila. I used to love them together. Katrina was also absent, but in light of the fact we’ve already had a couple of episodes with a decent storyline for her, I can accept missing out on seeing her this week. Oh, and I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get Harvey at Donna’s door. That would have been glorious.

And looking ahead………..

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We don’t know much about 8.06. but we suspect it includes Donna in a gorgeous ballgown and the title, Cats, Ballet, Harvey Specter suggests Louis will be the focus, but what we do know for sure is that the episode will see Harvey and Louis going to therapy…..together! Group therapy with these two? Good luck Dr. Lipschitz!

Suits continues next week with 8.06 Cats, Ballet, Harvey Specter on Wednesday night on the USA Network in the USA and on Thursday in the UK via Netflix. You can watch the promo here: https://youtu.be/16nMRv-QpUk

All screen shots / photos courtesy of USA Network

 

Television Review – Suits 8.04 “Revenue Per Square Foot” aka Louis needs a big hug!

It’s that time of the week where I dissect the latest episode of Suits. It’s hard to believe we’re already four weeks in to this eighth season!

The promo for the episode suggested this was going to be a darker week for Louis Litt and that certainly proved to be true and allowed the writers and Rick Hoffman to delve in to the emotional depths of this much-loved (well, by me anyway) character. However, 8.04 also provided the opportunity for the new ZSL team to pull together and actually start to be more like a family, with some lovely scenes between various characters, both established ones and some still relatively new. The further we get in to season 8, the happier I am about how much I’m enjoying it!

Getting in to specifics………

Rick Hoffman continues to show what a tremendous actor he is (and reminds us all how much we care for Louis Litt)

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Oh Louis! I went in to this episode prepared for what happened to Louis, thanks to last week’s promo, but it was still tough to watch. Having said that, I love a darker, angst-ridden storyline and although this one didn’t last long, it allowed Rick Hoffman and the writers to delve a little in to darker territory, with Louis’s mugging having emotional repercussions for him and his colleagues.

It goes without saying that Rick Hoffman was fantastic this week. I always love the stories that allow him to show a more emotional Louis (4.10/4.11 leaping to mind) and his response to try and hide what happened from everyone else made perfect sense for him. The moment he lost it with Samantha was handled so well, really highlighting a man at an emotional breaking point and his subsequent scene with Harvey was just lovely. One of the items on my season 8 wish list was the continuation of Harvey and Louis’s friendship and this scene was just what I was looking for (plus Gabriel Macht and Hoffman were both wonderful to watch). Seeing Harvey so kind and supportive to his friend and giving him great emotional advice was a joy (I’m so proud of your character development, Harvey) and him calling Louis “buddy” – it may have made me feel quite moved. Oh and that hug with Robert Zane? I want one!

Samantha Wheeler – truly part of the team and the family

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I’ve liked Samantha since episode one and over the first three episodes, we’ve been able to see her hard edge and her strong, confident attitude about her ability and what an asset that is to the firm. Last week we saw an inkling of the kinder side to her, by her helping Alex even when she didn’t need to and this week we saw exactly what kind of person she is and that’s one who cared enough about Louis to recognise something was wrong and let those that could help him know he needed them.

Seeing her tell Harvey he needed to be there for Louis made me smile and I loved the end when she offered to teach Louis self-defence! It was just lovely and Katherine Heigl did a great job of showing this softer side to her character, who we also learnt a little more about, by her revelation that something similar happened to her and that Robert Zane was there for her. I liked Samantha before this week, but following 8.04, I love her. Welcome to the family Ms. Wheeler!

Robert Zane learns an important lesson

Well, technically he learnt two if you include the knowledge that Louis Litt gives the best hugs! That aside, this week was important for Robert now he’s part of ZSL. Yes, it’s right he’s the boss, yes he was right when he told Harvey that he’s better at it than he is and yes he is absolutely right that they all need to be reminded who’s the boss from time to time, just as Jessica used to do. However, Donna was also spot-on when she told him that he needed to sometimes let them do things their way and that perhaps his slightly abrasive attitude could backfire on him the way it clearly did at his old firm. It’s great having Wendell Pierce in the series more and I’m excited to see what lies ahead, such as will we get to see more of his backstory with Samantha or will it remain a bit of a mystery, just as Harvey and Jessica’s bond was? Time will tell. Now, we just need to see him mudding with Louis!

Donna Paulsen continues to keep the firm together by supporting everyone else

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Yet again, it was Donna’s job this week to see the potential storms on the horizon and head them off and she’s so good at it, people such as Robert Zane don’t even realise how much she’s done. I’m still not really invested in Alex’s storyline, so had he left I wouldn’t have been that fussed, but knowing the upset it would cause when the firm is still in a period of adjustment, she successfully stopped the problem by doing what she does best – reading how people feel, knowing what they might do and helping them, sometimes without them realising. I loved that she engineered the whole Holly Cromwell element and that Harvey worked it out. Her relationship with Robert Zane is also developing well and demonstrates how much she’s grown and how confident she now is in this role.

We need more Gretchen! 

God bless Gretchen! She should be in every episode. She’s always awesome and Aloma Wright and Rick Hoffman continue to shine together.

Sheila Sasz – I used to like you, I really did, but honestly, just Leave Louis Alone!! 

I admit, I’m a little surprised by how much I’ve changed my view about Sheila Sasz. In the earlier seasons I really liked her a lot and her relationship with Louis was always fun and loving and I was truly sad to see them part ways. I had been pleased to hear she was coming back, but then the “let’s make cheating fun” storyline began last season and I started to cringe. It wasn’t really funny to me. Call me boring and old-fashioned if you want, but you can’t have the same fun, playful scenes between them when the context for it is cheating. Plus, she was messing with Louis’s emotions, which is never going to endear someone to me.

So, here we are in season 8 and I was hoping that it’d be smooth sailing. They’d decided to give it a try, decided they both now did want the same things in life (namely, a child) and I hoped Louis Litt, who ended season 6 sobbing in Rachel’s arms, was going to find some happiness. Yet, I’m coming to the conclusion we’e heading for yet more heartache and if the promo for next week (more on that shortly) is anything to go by, I’ll be happier for Louis is he lets this unhealthy, messed up relationship go.

Alex Williams is finally able to show some initiative (and stop whining)!

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I can’t quite put my finger on why I’m still a little bored by Alex Williams. I am a fan of Dule Hill and Alex is a good guy, trying to do the right thing after getting himself in to so much trouble over at his old firm. Yet, I’ve been finding his constant moaning rather tedious; moaning to Harvey, moaning to Samantha last week and then moaning again to Donna this week about the position he was in. So, I practically cheered when Donna effectively told him to quit whining and act! Someone had to say it! The result – we saw him show some initiative and show Harvey and Robert that he’s not a chew toy for them both to fight over. I’m still on Team Samantha when it comes to Named Partner, but I’m pleased to finally see Alex become a bit more interesting, even if he still has work to do.

Donna & Harvey – Sharing food and jokes. Now they just need to start sharing a bed!

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I’m becoming increasingly intrigued by Donna and Harvey’s relationship this season. I can see what I think the writers are trying to do with their relationship following season 7B; they went through a lot of emotional turmoil, which was frankly needed, but it did all happen in a few weeks for them and when you’ve as much emotional baggage as these two have, I didn’t expect fireworks overnight (even if I’d have loved it).

What we’ve seen so far this season is the re-establishment of their foundation, which hasn’t really been the same since season 4; they are comfortable with each other again, joking, teasing, flirting and it feels lighter and more fun than it has in ages and I’m loving it. Crucially for me though, it doesn’t feel identical to the early seasons, as though they are simply retreading old ground. Instead, there is something slightly different about it that I find hard to describe. They just seem so solid in what they have and I’m hoping the next few episodes will see them finally beginning to explore what’s really there between them. All it’ll take is a bit of honesty from both of them. Come on guys, you’re so close now (unless of course they are already together in secret and we just don’t know it yet)!

Looking ahead to 8.05 – the most anticipated episode of the season so far! 

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Next week we reach 8.05, entitled “Good Mudding” and this is the episode the fandom has been talking about for quite a while; ever since May when Aaron Korsh took part in a podcast and we learned that someone in 8.05 gives up something important to them. The synopsis points towards Louis and after seeing the promo, can we assume this is his dream of being a dad? Maybe, or maybe he gives up his relationship with Sheila? Quite frankly after the way she’s been treating him recently and if it transpires she’s been leading him on about having kids, then I hope he does! No one needs this type of game playing in their lives!

 

Not only do we have this puzzle though, but we’ll also be seeing the Specters again next week, with Marcus, his wife and Harvey’s mum popping up, which I assume is due to Marcus’s divorce. Has he cheated? How will this affect Harvey? I’m hoping for some good family drama!

Oh…..and there’s Harvey and Donna talking about strawberries and whipped cream (see the flirty photo above from 8.05). Discussing the restocking of the office fridge, or The Other Time…? Who on earth knows, but I can’t wait to find out!

Suits continues next week, on Wednesday in the USA on the USA Network and on Thursday via Netflix in the UK. You can see the promo here: https://youtu.be/RPTyNLAIeDs

Television Review – Suits 8.03 “Promises, Promises”- where the new ensemble really finds its feet

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After finding last week’s episode a little bit flat, this week saw the new era of Suits really finding its feet. The biggest take away from 8.03 for me was just how strong this ensemble is. After the loss of three of the original cast, that was a risk and yet, three episodes in and the dynamics that are starting to bed in are pushing the series forward and bringing a new energy that works.

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this week, so let’s delve in to the reasons why a little more.

Promises, Promises (and it’s becoming clear which will be broken)

Right from the start of the episode, we were reminded of exactly what promises the title was referring to. Even I’d forgotten about the promise Louis had made to Katrina, so with that and two people both hungry for their names on the wall and there were plenty of expectations flying around Zane Specter Litt. I’ll delve more in to Katrina’s journey later, but when it comes to named partner, it’s already becoming clear it should be Wheeler and not Williams up next.

Harvey, is that you? The loss of Mike is causing Harvey to have an identity crisis! 

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Watching 8.03, there was one fact that couldn’t be denied. Harvey Specter is not the same man we first met in 2011’s season one. Remember him? The man who didn’t need to know the details of the pro bono case he passed off to Mike, because he doesn’t care about the clients? The Harvey we see now wouldn’t recognise that person!

Promises, Promises highlighted just how important Mike Ross was to Harvey, both personally and professionally. He made him care and the loss of his friend and partner in crime has noticeably been affecting Harvey so far this season. He’s seemed a little sad and off his game; lost in the new environment of ZSL and that was finally addressed this week. No surprise that it was Donna who pointed out the truth to him. In order to deal with the loss of Mike, Harvey’s trying to be him, to keep the spirit of him alive in the firm. It’s sweet and seeing Harvey Specter caring for someone who has no one to fight for her was lovely to see, but Robert, Louis and Donna were right; this isn’t what the firm does and creating a storm with their landlord over it rather than simply passing it to the clinic was perhaps one step too far in a work context, but a more emotionally open Harvey can only be a good thing.

I’m loving the character progression of Harvey, which seems back on track after the swerving off course in 7.01. He’s realised Managing Partner isn’t who he is, he’s learnt how to care for people and that caring doesn’t necessarily make you weak and he’s seemingly realising that work isn’t the only thing that matters to him; people matter too. I’ll be interested to see how the upcoming return of the wider Specter family will impact on him. Maybe he’s close to realising there’s something else missing from his life away from the firm and that he needs to take a risk to be truly happy. Time will tell, but right now I’m proud of you Harvey!

Katrina learns the importance of teamwork (and makes a friend)

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The writers have already taken Katrina on an interesting journey. It’s now hard to remember that when she arrived we all disliked her for her nastiness towards Rachel and now Amanda Schull is a series regular, we are able to delve deeper in to this character. We already know Katrina is a superb lawyer and a strong woman, but 8.01 showed the difficulties of a woman trying to climb the ladder in the corporate world (if you’re strong and a little ruthless, you’re seen as cold and heartless) and I loved Suits showing just how hard it is to be successful in this world. This episode saw Katrina understanding that being a great lawyer isn’t enough the higher you get; you need to be able to lead people and have confidence in them to be able to delegate. That’s not a skill that everyone finds easy to do. Look at Harvey; until Mike, he didn’t let anyone do his work. Through Katrina’s interaction with Brian this week, allowing him to support her when she was struggling, she learnt that too and grew in her role as a result. She also made a friend and the more we see of her, the more I love her.

Wheeler vs. Williams? There’s no contest!

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Three episodes in and Samatha Wheeler is rapidly rising up my list of favourite characters in the show. Two of the promises on the table at ZSL are the ones to make each of Samantha and Alex the next Named Partner, but let’s be honest about this – at the moment, there’s no contest. As Samantha said herself at the very end of the episode (in which Katherine Heigl shone), she’s already miles ahead of Alex and she’s not afraid of letting him know it. I love her up-front attitude when addressing the position they are both in and her level of confidence and find myself wishing I had that same attitude!

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We also saw another side of her this week, not just the game-playing meddling we’ve witnessed for the last two weeks. Here, we saw her help Alex out, even when she didn’t have to. His tantrum in the lobby made me laugh. Just like Harvey with Donna in 8.01, he was effectively moaning that she didn’t save him from himself! Seriously Alex? The gender reversals between Alex and Samantha are fun to watch, while also making an interesting point – if a woman had acted that way, how would they have been perceived? I think we sadly all know the answer to that.

I do like Alex, but he’s still the character I’m least interested in and he certainly has a lot to learn. Samantha’s warning had been clear that the guy was dirty and yet he chose to ignore her and then cry about it when she was right! Come on Alex, you need to get better at reading people, otherwise it’ll be Zane Specter Litt Wheeler Bennett before you can blink (which I’d actually be fine with)!

My one wish now, a scene between Samantha and Jessica. Now that would be glorious!

The comedy is back!

One of my favourite elements of the series has always been the comedic aspects of the storylines and characters and that side of the show has been lacking recently (the Sheila / Louis stuff last week was just cringeworthy, rather than comedic, in my view). Yet, 8.03 was sprinkled with fun moments, surprisingly coming mostly from Robert Zane (still played superbly by Wendell Pierce).

I loved the nod to the ridiculous amount they drink on Suits without any side effects, by Robert nursing a hangover. Careful Robert, you need years of practice to spend a night drinking with Harvey. You better ask Donna for tips! Then there was the Zane / Litt dynamic, which is already so much fun to watch, especially his reaction to Louis’s disgusting hangover remedy! Robert and Harvey are also developing their own rapport and this was topped off with the banter back between Donna and Harvey. Hopefully season 8 will continue to keep the balance between drama and comedy right.

Donna and Harvey are more than Darvey and I love it!

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We’ve had some ups and downs between these two characters over the last season and this week’s episode really demonstrated that their relationship is stronger than ever. Do I want to see them ultimately end up together? Of course and I’ll feel annoyed (and a little cheated) if we get to the series finale (whenever that will be in the future) and they aren’t together. However, am I annoyed that they are not cuddling up in bed now and making heart eyes at each other across the office? No, I’m not. I love where their relationship is right now. It’s a mature, strong, multi-faceted relationship, that is the result of years of work by the writers, Sarah Rafferty and Gabriel Macht.

They’ve always been a team and Harvey may well have seen her as an equal, but now the world gets to see it too and they needed that equal-footing before taking any romantic steps, whether they realise it or not. We’re past the teething phase of Donna in her new role and in to the phase of watching her kicking ass. Unlike Alex this week, Donna’s biggest strength is her ability to read people and she shows that not all the cases at the firm can be solved by legal ability alone. Her scene with David Fox was fabulous. She strode in to his office and came out on top and he was grudgingly impressed. Who wouldn’t be?!

The brilliance of their partnership is that they are already a couple in almost every respect and whenever they do cross that line (I still think it’ll happen one day) not much will really change and that’s thanks to the depth of the relationship they already have. Now, all we need is for them to have the confidence to take a risk and go for it. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy “The Adventures of the Sledgehammer and the Velvet Glove” (I might use that for a story title)!

Looking ahead…….

The promo for next week seemed pretty grim for Louis Litt, who appears to be mugged at gunpoint! That’s quite dark for Suits and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles it. Personally, I’m hoping for another Harvey / Louis moment. Perhaps a traumatic event is just what this still relatively new team needs to finally pull together. We’ll find out in a week!

All photos / screen shots are courtesy of SuitsUSA / USA Network.

Suits continues next week with 8.04 “Revenue Per Square Foot”, which airs on Wednesday night on the USA Network in the USA and will be available on Thursday in the UK via Netflix. You can see the promo here: https://youtu.be/g3BUfaWo1bE

 

 

Television Review – Suits is back & off to a strong fresh start (8.01 “Right Hand Man”)

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There’s been a lot of discussion in the build up to this season and plenty of concerns. Would Katherine Heigl’s new character take centre stage? Would the show be able to bridge the gap left by Meghan Markle, but more importantly Patrick J Adams, when, let’s face it, the foundation of Suits was always Mike and Harvey’s relationship and how they made each other better men? Heck, there’s even been concern about whether or not the new titles sequence would honour the original cast members enough (short answer there – it does and it looks great).

A couple of days ago, I set out my wish list for the new era of Suits and having watched the first episode of season eight, I’m pleased to say, in my opinion, the series is off to a strong start and I’m very very relieved and rather excited!

So, diving in to the detail……..

No one kicks ass with as much style as Robert Zane! 

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I’ve always loved Robert Zane. He had a brilliant relationship with Jessica Pearson and he’s always been in a league above Louis and Harvey, much to their annoyance and yet they’ve all bonded through his daughter and her loyalty to her family and her work family. Tonight saw Zane establish himself as the boss and let’s face it, that’s exactly how it should be. Harvey has always been at his best when no.2 to Jessica, able to have more freedom to play by his own rules. Could he run the firm? Yes, I think he could now, after a few teething problems in season 7, but ultimately it’s not who he is and that’s what he understood and accepted by the end of “Right Hand Man.” He’s not a series regular, but I’m still sure we’ll see a decent amount of Wendell Pierce this year and I’m very much looking forward to it.

Donna finally getting to shine in her role as COO

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Last season saw Donna move up the ranks. Senior partner was nuts and I’m pleased that was changed pretty swiftly. Would someone in her position realistically become COO of a law firm? No, but this is Suits and it’s allowed to leave reality at the door to some extent and Donna certainly deserved to be more than someone simply seen as just answering Harvey’s phones!

Having seen a lot of bumps in the road since her promotion, as she navigated her new role and her confidence in it, I’m thrilled that if the season opener is anything to go by, this year we’ll get to see Donna (played brilliantly as always by Sarah Rafferty) truly shining and reminding everyone just how essential she is to the firm. In just one episode, we saw her offer advice to Katrina, Brian and Harvey, as well as earning the respect of the new managing partner by the end of the hour. Plus, bugging the conference room was pretty darn smart. My only hope now, is that the show doesn’t follow a predictable path and have her and Samantha going against each other, rather than supporting each other as strong women in a man’s world. Oh, and top marks as always to the costume department. Her wardrobe continues to take my breath away (and Harvey’s, if he’s being really honest with himself)!

Welcome on board Samantha Wheeler!

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The addition of Katherine Heigl to the cast certainly drew a lot of criticism from some people, but from what I saw in 8.01, her character looks to be a fun, feisty new member of ZSL (this acronym will always by London Zoo to me, but that’s a separate issue). I love that she’s confident and not intimidated by the likes of Robert Zane and Harvey Specter and another strong woman in the team is exactly what the show needs. We’ve seen her interact with her mentor, Zane, and with Harvey and Alex, so now I just want to see the dynamic between her and Donna. No nasty cat fighting please. I’m guessing her and Alex will be vying for their name on the wall all year. At this point, my money’s on Samantha!

A deeper insight in to the personality of Katrina. More please! 

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Amanda Schull’s Katrina has always been one of my favourite recurring characters and now she’s a series regular, it’s fantastic that we’ll be able to learn more about her. This episode certainly provided some fascinating insights in to her drive and personality. Katrina has always been ambitious and 8.01 was no different, as she volunteered to fire associates being let go due to the merger. That’s no pleasant task for anyone and showed a great drive to rise in the firm and gain respect of those senior to her by taking it on.

What I loved though, was that this episode revealed some of her own feelings about not being appreciated, as well as highlighting some of the many difficulties women face in such high-powered environments. They do have to give up more than men to succeed in worlds like this one and it was nice to see this flagged, while also providing depth to Katrina. I love Brian and was pleased he was staying, but the moment he called her cold and implied that’s what people say about her made my blood boil – oh look, a strong women making tough decisions and she’s cold-hearted. They’d never say that about a man and that’s a fact. Plus, she also revealed that perhaps she isn’t happy with the sacrifices she’s had to make to get where she is. As Donna picked up on, she was talking about herself, not the associates, when letting Louis know all the sacrifices people make to work hard, which again highlighted issues that women have to navigate in the world all the time.

We’ve also only really seen her interact with Louis and Mike to this point, so it’ll be fun to see her working with the others. She’ll never replace Rachel, but it was nice to see her and Donna already forming a closer bond and I hope that continues.

Harvey Specter back where he belongs

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As I’ve already said above, although he could have led the firm, ultimately Harvey wouldn’t have any fun doing it. He’s always more interesting when he’s not at the top of the decision-making tree and, initially in this episode, I was surprised Donna didn’t see that, until she revealed at the end, she’d known all along and let him make his own mistakes so that he’d work it out too. The scene in which he basically cried like a baby to her for not saving him from himself made me laugh. I honestly wanted to give him a dummy to suck on. Honestly, what a baby! Donna really is the boss of him, it’s hilarious.

With Zane in charge, it gives Harvey more scope to get out on the ground and be the type of character he used to be in the early seasons and no doubt we’ll see him having some teething problems with Samatha Wheeler and his loyalties with Alex Williams. I also hope this more level pegging between him and Louis will only strengthen their friendship.

Then there was the best change of the episode – Harvey is returning to his old office! He never looked at home in Jessica’s domain and it’ll be great to see him back behind his old desk. It’s where he belongs and I’m very pleased about it.

Donna and Harvey – back to being a strong, united team

Season seven had its ups and downs for Donna and Harvey. After the solid foundation we left them on in season 6, episode 7.01 opened with the bonkers Agard plot and also the overnight shift in their dynamic. Season 7B had them coming to an understanding about how important they are to each other, especially Harvey, choosing his relationship with Donna over the life he was trying to build with Paula (how she didn’t see that coming, when he met her after having panic attacks at the idea of losing Donna, I will never understand). I know lots of people are annoyed that they are not together romantically yet, but, as was the case with other on screen slow burns (Mulder and Scully, Brennan and Booth, Josh and Donna to name just three), the show knows that part of the draw is watching the sparks. I was growing frustrated last year, but I also want to see them emotionally ready for that next step and they’re not quite there yet. Yes, it’s a big part of why I love the show, but Suits isn’t just The Darvey Show to me, so as long as they have great content that continues to develop them emotionally and that suggests a positive ending, I’m fine with that.

Toronto looking its best as always

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I have a new admiration for the locations team and crew in general after my recent visit to Toronto, the home of Suits (watch this space for a post about that!). It’s taken for granted that Suits is set in New York and the crew do a superb job or finding locations in Toronto that fit that image, but that also highlight just what a fabulously diverse city it is.

Looking Ahead…..

Next week’s episode is called Pecking Order and from the promo, it looks as though Harvey and Donna are going to be going up against Samantha Wheeler. As long as this doesn’t become a drawn out battle, before they realise they are all on the same team, I’m all for some good conflict. Welcome back Suits gang, I’ve missed you. Will I miss Mike and Rachel? Of course, but at least it seems that the show is going to be fun, fresh and full of new story opportunities going forward.

Suits season 8 continues next week (Wednesday night in the USA and Thursdays on Netflix in the UK). Check out the promo here: https://youtu.be/Mq7_h6a4Ml8

Looking ahead to a new era – My wish list for Suits Season 8

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It’s only been a few months since the season seven finale of Suits, which, if you read my review, you’ll know left me feeling rather disappointed. I’ll always think that opportunities were missed to truly make the departure of Meghan Markle and Patrick J Adams and indeed their characters, special, especially now that the spin-off show, which used that finale as a springboard and took up so much time, isn’t even reaching our screens until 2019.

Those views aside, this week sees the return of the series, in what is undoubtably a whole new era, with the arrival of new character Samatha Wheeler (played by Katherine Heigl) and the promotion of Dule Hill’s Alex Williams and Amanda Schull’s Katrina Bennett to series regulars. The show won’t be the same without half of the original cast (although I assume Jessica Pearson will be back the closer we get to the start of her show, Second City) and I’ll especially miss the special bond between Harvey and Mike, but I’m also excited to see whether the show really is able to reboot itself which, if successful, could mean it’s around for a bit longer.

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Therefore, before the show returns this week (Wednesday night in the USA and Thursday on Netflix here in the UK), I’ve been considering exactly what I’m hoping for in Suits season eight. I’m realistic in knowing that it’s unlikely I’ll get all of the points on this wishlist, but hopefully my demands aren’t too unreasonable!!

So, diving right in!

1. A narrative that makes sense and doesn’t come out of nowhere!

I won’t ramble on about how much the season seven premiere irritated me (you can read it here, if you haven’t already!), but I still need any show I enjoy and invest in, to have a logical story narrative for its characters. That isn’t to say things will always go the way I want them to, but as long as I can see the logic for the story decisions, I’ll stick with it to the bitter end!

2. Strong female characters supporting each other, not pitted against each other

Suits has always impressed me for its inclusion of strong female characters and although nothing will compare to Donna and Rachel’s friendship, or Jessica’s presence at the top, season eight has the opportunity to again have three main female characters supporting each other. I don’t want to see Samantha and Donna pitted against each other, or threatened by each other and I hope the writers won’t be as stereotypical as other shows have been when portraying women on screen. Having Donna, Katrina and Samantha (and indeed with Gretchen and Sheila too) in the series, I’m excited to see them supporting and respecting each other’s strengths.

3. More Donna backstory please!

Although she’s been here since the beginning, Donna is the character we still know the least about. Season seven showed us Louis’s past and what made him who he is and yes, we’ve seen a glimpse of young Donna, but there’s still so much we don’t know about her and I’d love to dig further in to that. Plus, who doesn’t want to meet her mother and see her talking about Harvey at that dinner party, or Donna during her theatre years?!

4. More Lily and her meeting a certain someone special

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I know many many people hated Paula Agard getting to meet Harvey’s mother before Donna, but I see why, from a story perspective, it made sense, allowing all the events of “Inevitable” to unfold. Darvey fans are forever grateful to you, Lily! Personally, I love seeing the more emotional side of Harvey (and Gabriel Macht getting a chance to channel his emotions more) and there is so much that could be explored through his relatively new connection with his mother, who is surely wondering who exactly that someone special is, if it wasn’t Paula! Stop by the office Lily and pop in to see the COO. Maybe Gordon mentioned her? I can but hope! Plus, if Harvey’s brother is going through a difficult time, then Lily is bound to appear at some point.

5. Mike and Rachel remaining a presence, despite their absence

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Yes, Patrick and Meghan may have left (although I still hope Patrick comes back one day, even if just for the last ever episode), but Mike and Rachel are still only in Seattle and so I hope they’ll continue to be referred to, from time to time. With Robert Zane joining the firm, I imagine this will be much easier to achieve and any little mention will go down very well with longstanding fans.

6. DARVEY PROGRESS! It’s been seven seasons for heaven’s sake!

It’s hard to say exactly how much progress I want to see by the end of season eight without knowing if this will be the final season of the show or not. Plus, I’m realistic when it comes to Donna and Harvey’s relationship. It remains one of the most interesting dynamics on television and chemistry between actors of this kind is rare, but I also understand why the writers have held off, as a slow burn is fun to watch. Plus, there is more to Suits than Darvey. However, I think Suits is at risk of dragging the slow burn out for too long unless clear progress continues to be made, especially as I can’t imagine this couple not being endgame by the time Suits does eventually finish.

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Season six seemed to be heading towards something happening, with both characters more emotionally open, especially after Harvey finally reconciling with his mother and then 7.01 suddenly had Harvey declaring the only person he wanted to share his life with was her ex therapist?! Personally, I didn’t have a problem with Harvey having a relationship with someone else, as I’d hoped that would wake him or Donna up (which is exactly what this did, for Donna at least), but having it be Paula Agard was just nuts (although, full marks to Christina Cole for her work).

Therefore, surely this season needs to push Donna and Harvey’s feelings forwards, whether in the right direction for a ninth season, or to the finish line, if this is the last year of the show. Will Donna admit she did feel lots of things when they kissed? Will that be to Harvey or a third party like Louis? Will Alex or Marcus take on the role of Mike to give his old friend shit for not making a move on a woman he clearly cares for? Is this where Lily or one of Donna’s family play a role? There needs to be steps forward. Before a lot of fans lose their minds!

7. A deepening of the friendship between Harvey and Louis

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With the arrival in the firm of Robert Zane, who it seems is going to take on the managing partner role, Louis and Harvey will once again be on level pegging as named partners and I hope this allows for their friendship to only grow on screen. Over the last season and a half, we’ve seen much less of their in-fighting and much more of these two men being friends as well as colleagues. I loved their chat in 6.13 about Louis’s love life and the moment Harvey called Louis “My friend” in 7.14 was a highlight of 7B. I’m hopeful we see more of this in season eight and not a return to the more juvenile bickering of past years.

8. Samatha Wheeler kicking Harvey’s ass professionally, but staying away from him romantically!

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I know there’s been mixed reactions to Katherine Heigl joining the cast of Suits. What’s important to me is what she and her character bring to the show and that she fit in with the family that the cast and crew have created around the series. Everyone deserves a second chance after all. That being said, I really hope the writing team don’t go down the obvious route of having Samantha Wheeler dating Harvey. PLEASE NO! I think they won’t be that silly, but it’ll remain a concern until I see on screen that she has a partner or shows absolutely no interest in him whatsoever! Plus, it’ll be fun to see a strong woman kick his ass professionally.

9. Lots of Dr Lipschitz! 

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It seems crazy that Ray Proscia’s Dr. Lipschitz only arrived on Suits in 7.02, as it feels as though he’s been around forever! Fingers crossed he continues to help Louis on his emotional journey and if he has a spare slot in his schedule, can he fit Harvey in too? He really needs a therapist who takes their job seriously! Plus, if he’s having to deal with his brother’s marriage falling apart, maybe he’ll need someone to talk him through exactly how that’s affecting his own feelings on relationships.

10. Louis Litt being happy for a whole season (well, fine I’ll take half a season if a full one is too much to ask for)!

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It’s been a rocky road for Louis in the last few seasons, so I’m hoping to see him find a level of personal stability and happiness this year. Sheila has always been the best match for him (thank god Tara didn’t last long) and I’d love to see them both happy with their relationship. Maybe it’ll inspire Harvey and Donna to follow their example! And if a little baby Litt is on the cards, well, if it’s what both Louis and Sheila are happy about, then that’ll certainly add another dynamic to the show. Louis setting up a firm creche with Brian anyone?!

11. A few familiar faces popping up would be fab too!

Suits is a show that has a brilliant set of recurring characters to draw from and there are a few I’m hoping turn up in season 8. Top of the list are Gretchen and Brian, who both have brilliant dynamics with Louis. Then there’s Benjamin, who has a lovely connection with Donna, as well as Stu (but his return in season 7 perhaps rules this out) and I’m pleased we’ll be seeing more of Harvey’s brother too.

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So, those are my hopes for this new era of Suits. It has the potential to be an exciting season. I really hope it delivers. All my fingers are crossed.

Suits season 8 begins on Wednesday 18th July in the USA and on Thursday 19th July on Netflix in the UK. Here’s a glimpse at the new credits sequence too: https://youtu.be/HHEzkbnmKRs