Television Review -Game of Thrones 8.02 “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” – a truly superb showcase of the strength of these special characters

“The things I do for love.”

That was the memorable line that ended episode one of the first series of Game of Thrones and it perfectly sums up so many motivations on display in this second episode of season 8. After last week’s opener provided most of the reunions and delivered the important information to Jon Snow about his parentage, the creators of the show chose to do something special and also rather brave in 8.02. We all know the battle is coming. The Army of the Dead are past Last Hearth, inching ever closer to the boundaries of Winterfell and yet the strength of Game of Thrones as a series means that taking 55 minutes out of the action to simply spend time with these incredible characters feels absolutely right.

As an audience, we’ve grown to love these people and their relationships and clearly not everyone will make it through next week alive. Therefore, this week provided our and their last chance to simply exist with one another; to be who they are, or who they’ve become and show us that ultimately for many of them at this point they are doing things for love and honour. As a theatre lover, it reminded me of an intimate play, split in to separate acts, focussing on the dialogue and connections forged over eight years and although I imagine some won’t have enjoyed it, I loved it. It also laid the emotional foundations by reminding you who you care about, who they care about and how awful it will be when the casualties of the battle start to mount up.

There’s a lot to unpack in this episode, so let’s dive in.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms – the beauty of Jaime & Brienne’s story

Full disclosure, Jaime Lannister is my favourite character. He is in the books and he is in the series and it’s mainly because he is such a complex man, who feels very human and authentic. He changes in ways that few others on the series do and the biggest reason he does is the influence of Brienne of Tarth. Bran/The Three-Eyed Raven is right when he says had Jaime not pushed him from that window that he’d perhaps be the same person. It certainly started his journey of judging his own choices and actions, but it was his time with Brienne that allowed him to be the decent man he’s likely always wanted to be. Let’s not forget, he killed the Mad King to save the people of King’s Landing. Seeing Jaime turn away from Cersei (which seems to have taken longer on screen than on the page) was such a pivotal moment and watching him stand before so many people who wish him dead and say he wants to keep his word and fight with them emphasised how much he’d changed.

Yet, the episode’s title doesn’t just refer to one knight, but two; the other being the woman who means so much to Jaime Lannister and to whom he can gift the thing she’s wanted most in life – to be a knight of the realm! Honestly, all of Jaime and Brienne’s scenes were a treat this week, with such lovely touches (like when Jaime, on trial says its not about loyalty to houses, while slightly glancing her way, seeing as she said this to him at the Dragon Pit and which results in her stepping forward to defend his honour), but nothing could beat the scene in which Ser Jaime knighted Ser Brienne of Tarth. It was simply beautiful, from the way it was shot in the firelit room, to the acting from Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, to the emotional power of the words Jaime speaks as he shows her this is what she deserves and yes, I shed a few tears.

The unexpected affection for Theon Greyjoy

Let’s take a moment to salute Alfie Allen, who I feel has been underrated for his performance as Theon in the series. He’s been superb throughout, taking Theon from cocky, unpleasant ward of the Starks, to traitor, to hostage, to a broken victim of abuse who finds his way back to himself and goes on to save his sister and then choose to come back to the only home he knew and yet betrayed, to defend it and try to make amends for the wrongs he caused the Starks. I never expected to like Theon and yet his reunion with Sansa this week was one of the most moving moments of the series and another that caused me to shed a tear. The have both endured such pain and helped each other survive. It’s another example of Game of Thrones doing what it does best, eliciting emotion from you where you least expect it.

Arya Stark – Warrior, assassin & woman in control of her own choices

It’s interesting that I’ve already seen quite a lot of mixed reaction online to Arya’s choices in this episode. Many people seem appalled by it, which I admit, I’m quite surprised about. Hardly any of the female characters in this story have been in control of their bodies. We’ve had Dany raped on her wedding night. Sure she fell in love with Drogo, but not at first. Then there was Cersei being traded by Tywin and as recently as last week giving up herself to Euron in order to keep him on side. Brienne was only spared thanks to Jaime and we all saw the brutal horrors Sansa endured throughout. Yet here, we had a young woman, choosing to have sex with someone she had a connection with and cared for and who cared for her. Perhaps most people’s discomfort stems from the fact we’ve watched Maisie Williams grow up from a 13-year old to the young 22 year-old woman she now is, but as characters go, Arya’s choice to sleep with Gendry was one of the most natural sexual moments we’ve seen on this show! That scene aside, I also loved her highlighting to him her skill and confidence in the woman she is. My one complaint – can she please announce to the world that she obliterated House Frey?!

And now our watch begins………one last moment for the Night’s Watch?

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Those early days at The Wall seem an age ago, don’t they? And yet, three of our favourite Crows have made it to this final season and this episode saw Sam, Jon and Edd reunited, to stand beside each other, keeping watch for the arrival of the enemy. And with Ghost by their side too! It was another lovely nod to the relationships that have been formed in the show and provided a moment for humour, with Edd mocking Sam, only for Sam to give as good as he got, as Jon smirked beside his friends. This episode was filled with quiet, yet emotionally loaded moments and this was another lovely one.

Daenerys Targaryen – showing more glimpses of the Targaryen madness within?

As the series has made me love Jaime after disliking him and caused me to cry for Theon when I’ve spent years wanting to give him a slap, it’s also causing the opposite reaction when it comes to Dany. Having loved her for years, I’m starting to grow more and more concerned about where this story is going for the Mother of Dragons. Yes, her whole life has been about the Iron Throne and getting justice for her family, but her hostility to Sansa last week and crucially, her reaction to Jon Snow’s admission that he’s the son of her brother are worrying me. Her first response was anger over the fact he was now a threat to her claim. You could see the surprise and hurt pass through Jon Snow’s eyes (wonderfully played by Kit Harrington). Hopefully this is just a blip, as the idea of her going full-on Mad Queen does not appeal to me. Plus, she did try and make peace with Sansa following Jorah’s counsel (although I like that the show hasn’t wrapped up that tension with a neat bow just yet).

A song before the battle & a reminder of so many wonderful characters

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Another beautiful moment of this episode was when Pod offered the group a song as they awaited the battle around the fireside. Not only was it a song full of emotion, reflecting on love and loss (and whose origins can be found in the books), but the montage of scenes over which it played was perfect to round out an episode that had been filled with reminders to the audience that this group of characters are special and we’ve grown to care more than we even realised. Yes, it reminded me of the moment in The Return of the King, when Pippin sang a sorrowful song as men went out to die in that final Lord of the Rings film, but that’s not a bad thing. The emotional impact was needed to make next week all the more upsetting.

And then there were the brief, but heartfelt moments that added to the mood

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The above were the bigger story beats this week for me, but there were so many other smaller moments, that added to the emotional heart of 8.02, which I can’t leave out:

  • Sir Davos seeing Shireen in the little, scarred girl who wants to fight. I mean, it was just such a small, but hugely significant moment for him and I loved it.
  • The Hound showing affection in his own way, when he reminds Arya that he fought for her.
  • Tyrion filling Pod’s cup until it was overflowing after Brienne said he should only have half!
  • Tyrion calling out his brother on how he loved Cersei despite knowing who she was, followed by Jaime finding Brienne in the crowd below. Honestly all of Tyrion’s and Jaime’s moments were a joy this week.
  • Tormund’s bonkers telling of his backstory, prompting some fun reactions from the crowd and driving Sir Davos to drink!
  • Sam giving his family sword to Ser Jorah, the son of the man who taught him to be a man.
  • Greyworm promising Missandei a new, happier life after the war is over.

Looking ahead – next week is going to be emotional. Stock up on tissues folks!

Some readers may have already read my dead pool predictions post for this series, in which I set out my hopes, fears and thoughts on who will not reach the end of the series alive, but when we know that next week is the big battle, it seems only right to try and think about who will fall in 8.03. What do we know? The episode is directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who is behind Hardhome and The Battle of the Bastards and who has directed an episode which is said to be the longest battle scene ever recorded for film or television, Running for 82 minutes and taking 55 nights to make! To put that in context, season six’s Battle of the Bastards took 25 days to film…….! This is going to be epic. In fact I think we’ll need a new word to describe this.

Will they defeat the Night King? I assume not. Surely that would be too easy and too early. So, who will fall in this first battle?

  • Sadly, I think Theon is a definite goner. He’s putting himself between the Night King and Bran and his story arc has reached a natural end. He’ll die protecting the Starks.
  • Sorry Missandei, but I think you’ll be alone on that beach in Narth, as I don’t see Greyworm surviving the week.
  • Edd – the last Crow we care about besides Jon and Sam is likely another casualty of the battle.
  • Beric Dondarrion – I just don’t see his story continuing much longer and honestly, I don’t really care.
  • Ser Jorah Mormont – I’m still 50/50 about this, but I could easily see him dying this week, if it means he saves Dany, or Jon, or heck, little Lyanna Mormont.
  • Tormund – he’s a character who belongs in the North. I don’t see him making his way down to King’s Landing.
  • Jaime….or Brienne……no, Jaime. This is the hardest for me, as I love these two, but one of them seems destined to die and it could be this week. Brienne has now been given everything she dreamt of, becoming a knight and earning the respect and in my view, love, of Jaime, the man she’d want to be with if this wasn’t Game of Thrones (sorry Tormund). Perhaps her story has reached the end, but Jaime has already told Bronn that he’d choose to die in the arms of the woman he loves. He may have meant Cersei then, but it’s more likely to be Brienne, who may well survive to complete the pages of the man she loved in the Kingsguard book.
  • Also – are the crypts really as safe as everyone kept saying this week?? We did see skeletons attack Bran and co before they found sanctuary in the tree…..and the crypt is full of buried Starks………

Blimey, just typing that makes me sad and there’s a week of anticipation to go (plus I’m still not totally certain about Arya’s fate either next week….). Good luck everyone and I’ll see you here next week to sift through the emotional wreckage…….

Game of Thrones continues next Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO in the USA and on Sky Atlantic (or via NowTV) in the UK on Monday (live at 2 a.m. and 9 p.m. and available for streaming/download following the early morning airing). 

Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/TdkS4Xazz7Q, the short behind the scenes featurette here: https://youtu.be/WoNRogjJn1Q  and the longer featurette here: https://youtu.be/dcqrNXKv628 

(All screenshots are the property of HBO/Game of Thrones)

 

 

 

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Television Review – Suits 7×15 / 7×16 – Season seven comes to an unexpectedly unsatisyfing end

After only four weeks of new episodes, on Wednesday night we reached the end of season seven, with a double bill of episodes 7×15 (“Tiny Violin”) and 7×16 (“Goodbye”). The show had a fair amount to cover in the two hours and sadly, my overwhelming feeling on finishing the episodes (especially the second hour), was one of disappointment, caused by a number of factors (no, not just Darvey).

As they aired together, this review will dive in to both episodes, so forgive me for making this a little longer than usual. Thanks to @lovedarvey for the photo collages! Here goes………………

Specter Litt under attack yet again 

Specter Litt faced yet another attack as 7×15 began, with the former partners banding together to try and reclaim their buy-in money, lost in 6×01. Their whole argument – working at the firm jeopardised their future professional careers, as they were tainted by association (can I make a claim for it jeopardising my sanity too?).

With three big story elements already needing to be covered (Mike/Rachel wedding & leaving; the spin-off; and capping off all the Darvey build-up), this story wasn’t really needed, except to set up the expanded firm for season eight, most importantly including Robert Zane. I did enjoy seeing Louis stand beside his new partner against the enemy, which was far more satisfying than other aspects we were promised would be.

A merger of the two firms has been floated before and it’s a little odd that this is finally happening now that Rachel won’t be in the show. I understand that we needed to see Harvey stepping up in to that managing partner role, but having more time to see Rachel working and perhaps clashing with her dad would have been fun, but I’ll move along, as this isn’t really the biggest missed opportunity we need to talk about! I wish it was.

To be fair to the writers (and this will be the only time I say that in this review), 7×15 on its own was a decent episode, which is tainted by the hour that followed it and this storyline did at least give us Harvey and Louis working as a true team – no yelling, no mud slinging, no blaming one another; they just got on with working together to protect their home. I particularly liked Louis standing up for Harvey the moment Alex suggested exactly what Louis once suggested to Jessica, that he take over in charge for a while. I like you Alex (and more Dule Hill will be welcome next season), but I don’t like you that much! The scene with everyone together from the firm at Harvey’s was also nice to see, highlighting the bond they share, which I dearly wish had been carried through in to 7×16 (I’m getting to that).

With the groundwork laid for a bigger firm filled with rivalries and game playing next season, it’s good we ended the year with Louis and Harvey, at long last, working as a team. I just hope this lasts longer than five minutes in to 8×01! Oh and will it be ZSL next year? The fact that acronym is the same as London Zoo will, I know, amuse only me.

One last clinic case for Mike

Not only did we have the firm under attack, but we also saw the clinic under threat due to its latest class action involving children with lead poisoning, covered up by the company responsible. So, right up Mike’s street.

As the horrifying reality of the harm caused was discovered by him, we had one last opportunity to see just how supportive of each other Mike and Rachel are, as they discussed the case at home, with Rachel providing encouragement, love and support to the man she was going to spend her life with. I never tire of seeing these two on screen together and 7B has really highlighted their bond and their maturity as a couple (unlike others in this show).

Having the clinic case yet again highlight to Mike the impossible position he is in, straddling the corporate and clinic lines, was a logical way of underpinning why he would be willing to leave the life he had. As he says to Harvey, it’s time (albeit giving him more than half a second to say it would have been nice, writers!); time for him to go out and be the type of lawyer he was always meant to be (well, assuming he passes the Washington State bar – no cheating now Mike). Plus, thanks to Louis, in one of my favourite scenes of the two episodes, the clinic can live on without him, at least for a while.

Even Scottie knows the Darvey truth of it all!

We’d seen the news that the lovely Abigail Spencer was returning for an episode and I had my fingers crossed this would be to show Harvey that she’d moved on and to give him some Donna-related truths. At least half of this came to pass when, after being drawn yet again in to the firm’s mess and sensibly refusing to taint her reputation for Harvey, she was back to play what I hope is a vital role for Darvey.

On effectively asking Harvey if he wanted to date (couldn’t she be settled and happy by now?), he admits to dating his therapist who he went to to “fix himself” as she puts it. I assume this was the writers’s way  of acknowledging that that relationship choice was a giant mess, by the awkward / embarrassed way he admitted it. Yes, Harvey, that was a stupid decision.

Showing more emotional intelligence than Paula Agard did in 13 episodes, despite her so-called medical degree, Scottie zeros in on the biggest obstacle to having a romantic relationship with Harvey – Donna and his feelings for Donna and on seeing her guess is correct, by his cagey answer and face, she’s out. Getting in the middle of that would be crazy, right? No one would choose to do that knowingly would they? Oh…….wait……

This was a superb scene and Gabriel’s silent emotional acting yet again was on point. He gives so much without words, it’s incredible. You actually see, for the first time, the look of realisation and shock pass over Harvey’s face. Was this a lightbulb moment? Is now the only thing standing between him and Donna his false understanding of her feelings? Will the writers even acknowledge this next season? Who knows. Surely bringing Scottie back for this and then not following through would be pointless, but after their writing decisions for the finale, I’m no longer sure of anything.

And talking of Darvey………..

Donna & Harvey – back to normal! Wonderful…….

Season seven has undoubtably been the heaviest Darvey-filled season so far and the further through the episodes we got, the more I started to wonder whether I’d been too cynical, whether there may be real progress by the end of 7×16. Am I disappointed with where their relationship has been left? Of course. Am I surprised? Not really.

As those who’ve read my earlier reviews know, I get most annoyed when the plot doesn’t make sense of the pre-existing narrative (yes, I’m talking about you, 7×01) and if you step back and look at the season as a whole, it was certainly heading in a romantic direction. We all knew Paula would never stay in the picture. It was an unethical relationship from the outset and she was never going to replace Donna in Harvey’s life, because no one can, which Scottie highlighted in mere seconds.

Yet, after 14 episodes of watching the pieces move on the board, from seeing Harvey become a man ready and willing to have a real relationship and be on good terms with his mother, to them openly addressing their blurred lines, Harvey choosing Donna and even after Mike spelling out his view that the two of them being together was something he thought was a great idea (listen to your son, Harvey), there was no conclusion to the season’s heavily- featured Darvey narrative. Aaron Korsh and the writers have done a fantastic job this year, weaving in references, subtle and not so subtle, to the importance of the other in both their lives and yet this season’s chess game (as Gabriel called it) didn’t lead to a checkmate.

Instead, we had the “we drank a whole bottle of scotch and talked all night and now we’re back to normal” scene, which was sweet, but ridiculous in the wider context of the season. Back to normal, guys? Really?! Oh, come on! This is getting old now. The fact they are using scotch as a sex substitute at this point is bonkers. Unless of course they mean they spent all night drinking scotch in bed. If so, then please carry on!

Then there was the wedding, from which we’d already seen those photos weeks ago. With hindsight, I wish we hadn’t now, seeing as it only raised my expectations for us finally getting the elusive “more” we have been waiting for. Did I love the dancing and the gazing across the aisle (you know, in that way all friends do……….)? Obviously.  Was it lovely to see them arm in arm walking down the aisle? Of course! The problem is, I’m starting to get frustrated with the crumbs, which only ever seem to lead the narrative so far and then pull back. Clearly the editing of Mike’s vows over the top of Harvey and Donna was deliberate and teasing the audience, but don’t be so blatant if it’s never going to happen.

I’m not an advocate of the giving any one set of fans the storyline they think they deserve in a show. It’s being written for more than just one fan base after all, but Suits is reaching the point of taking the slow burn tease too far and fans who feel frustrated will only stick around so long. As I said in my review of 7×14, the Darvey drag is starting to feel repetitive and could risk becoming as boring to watch as the perceived boredom the writers fear happening by putting them romantically together on screen. They’re lucky we all love Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty so much to keep watching.

Season seven, more than any other, felt as though it was going somewhere for their relationship. They were acknowledging it in a way they never had before and in my view, there needed to be a climax to all of that. It didn’t need to be much – I’m not unrealistic. I understand how television works. A conversation about having a conversation would have been enough; a nod towards the fact they’d both perhaps not admitted the truth, possibly fuelled by Harvey’s need to act on that moment of seeming realisation with Scottie; an acknowledgment that there was something between them they can’t ignore anymore.

Yet, now, the way the season was left, they can, and knowing these writers, I suspect will, ignore it. With new main characters (did we really need that?) and new threats bound to arise, this would have been the time to really take this somewhere and now they haven’t, I have reverted to my old, cynical view, that I’ve had since the early days of watching Suits – that it won’t happen until the very end. I just hope Aaron Korsh is given warning of when that will be, as before this week’s finale, I’d have said with confidence that they’d never rush a key element of this show, but now…….all bets are off.

………which leads me to the biggest and most unexpected disappointment of the finale and the entire season, if not the series to date…………

A 5 minute farewell to two central characters who deserved more


We’ve all known Mike and Rachel we’re leaving for a while. Even before the official announcements, it was obvious that both Meghan Markle and Patrick J. Adams were ready to move on and the show’s creator made clear that they’d been planning for it for some time.

Wonderful! Lots of time then to create a thoroughly deserving farewell to two of the show’s characters after seven seasons! Right……..?

Or not.

I still cannot believe how rushed the Mike / Rachel departure was in this finale. Yes, they needed to give time to bedding in the foundations of the new Jessica spin-off, but the focus, especially in the back half of the finale, should have been on these two characters, who needed to marry and depart in a satisfying way.

The Chicago thread could have been wrapped up in less time (some of those scenes could have been in episode one of that show), leaving us to focus on what has always been at the heart of Suits – family. It wasn’t an accident Mike soon had none, meaning the firm became his family and that theme has always been a strong one.

Instead, the promo had effectively shown us the whole wedding. I’m not denying that what we did see wasn’t lovely. It was heart warming to see Mike and Rachel commit to each other for life, full of smiles, before dancing in each other’s arms with their friends, but how was doing that in under 5 minutes seen as an acceptable way to handle this vital storyline?!


Yes, we saw Mike say goodbye to Harvey. We had two lovely scenes for them, the one before the wedding, with all the banter we’ve all grown to love and then the emotional scene at the bar, in which Mike tells Harvey he isn’t coming back. It was a beautiful scene, the one that made me the most emotional, thanks to these two actors highlighting yet again how integral to the show their relationship is (and Gabriel’s expression of Harvey’s silent grief at the loss was quite something to watch). However, having Mike literally drop the news on his friend out of nowhere was utterly out of character, but then we’d already seen him seemingly fine to get married without his best man, so out of character was a theme of this finale. These people are a family (apparently Mike mentioned that in his vows, not that we had time to hear them), so surely such monumental news deserved a group scene?! The episode was called Goodbye, yet no one really said it! Their decision could have been made in 7×15 and woven in to the scene at Harvey’s apartment with everyone there to acknowledge that this would be their last fight together. It would have added depth to the moment!

As it stands, we didn’t see anyone say goodbye to Rachel, who clearly will never be back (I hold out hope we’ll at least see Patrick in the very last one). The news could have been included in her scene with Donna. Yes, we had a lovely moment where the two said how much they loved each other and Sarah Rafferty and Markle made the emotion clear, but why not tell Donna why the wedding was being moved up? Why didn’t Donna ask? Yet another strange writing choice if there was to be no big group farewell scene. Plus, we did get two lovely Mike / Louis moments across the two episodes, but that wasn’t the same as goodbye and Louis and Rachel’s bond has been a gem on the show, which again saw no closure.


Did the writers forget that although, the audience knew the actors were leaving, their characters didn’t know?!

It’s fair to say fans often want more than can be aired, due to time, but it’s not unreasonable to expect a goodbye scene when two integral members of the series are leaving and may never be seen again (please come back Patrick, we need it now, more than ever). Jessica had more of a farewell in 6×10 and she was back every 5 minutes! Ironically, after preparing for Darvey disappointment, I was not prepared to be let down in how this Goodbye was handled and it makes me question whether the writers and creator will ever be able to give the show a truly satisfying ending, whenever that is.

Dirty, yet dull, dealings in Chicago

The main reason why Mike and Rachel were so short changed was clear – the need to introduce Jessica’s spin-off. Ironically, 7×16 should have been called Chicago, rather than Goodbye, seeing as the focus was on the spin-off, rather than the end of an era of Suits itself.

I’ve always loved Jessica and Gina Torres and having missed her in the show regularly, had been looking forward to seeing her back and yet I find myself saying something I didn’t expect to say – there was too much Jessica Pearson in this finale.

Yes, they needed to set the scene for a new show, but they didn’t need to dedicate as much time to it as they did, or the Chicago plot line could have been woven more firmly in to the existing world of the show. Look at how Arrow introduced Barry Allen ready for The Flash. Hell, Angel simply said he was off and disappeared through the smoke in Buffy in to his spin-off! There was just too much here. I enjoyed seeing the different tone being set (this will clearly be slightly darker than Suits) and I loved having Harvey and a Jessica side by side again, but the balance of the episode was wrong, taking vital time from the main storyline.

Not only that, but the cutting back and forth to Jessica during the wedding was criminal in my opinion. It was already a blink and you’ll miss it wedding, so chopping it up more was crazy. I yelled at the screen when that gorgeous Mike / Harvey hug was cut off for a full Jessica / Jeff row. It took away from a key moment in a way that is unforgivable, only made worse by the decision to end the episode, not on the happy, celebratory family we love, but Jessica staring out of a window! Seriously?! What were they thinking?!

Ironically, the result of this is to have the opposite effect on me to the one they were no doubt hoping for. Instead of the spin-off being something I am excited to see, it’s now something I might catch up with if I get round to it. The fact it was used to spoil Mike and Rachel’s departure has already tainted it for me and it will take some time for me to be able to forgive the writers for that.

Who edited this finale?!

I don’t remember ever feeling irritated by Suits when it comes to the edit and recently the episodes have been strong, from a pacing and visual perspective (7×11 stands out for me). Yet, the finale felt as if it was edited by a new team altogether. The pacing was poor, which is more the fault of the episode’s content imbalance, but some of the cuts chosen here were, frankly, dreadful.

I’ve already mentioned the wedding/spin-off editing. With this sequence already so short, you’d have expected it to at least be uninterrupted, or cut from say, Harvey and Mike to Rachel and Donna, but no, we all really wanted to see those Jessica scenes, right?

Then there was the blatant use of material from last week. Was so much time spent on the Chicago plot, that in the edit room they realised they didn’t have enough other material? I would have liked Donna overhearing Louis and Alex argue, before hurrying to fetch Mike home to help, were it not for the glaringly obvious fact that this was recycled from 7×14! Fashion is always noticed in Suits, even by casual viewers (my mum being a prime example) and having Donna in last week’s outfit in one scene and then suddenly in another minutes later stood out a mile! Come on Suits, please do better. Your audience pays attention.

Looking ahead to season 8………

I admit, after the disappointments of the finale, I’m not quite ready to think about next season, but it’s how I always end these reviews and I have three months to find my enthusiasm. So, here’s my wish list.

1. Donna, or Louis, watching a recording of the wedding to give me all the bits I feel cheated out of (yes, I know this is unrealistic, but it’s my wish list, okay?)

2. Katherine Heigl’s character NOT dating Harvey! Just don’t do it, Mr Korsh. I beg you.

3. More backstory for Donna, as she is still the most underdeveloped series regular in terms of her life away from the firm.

4. Mentions of Mike and Rachel – gone but never forgotten.

5. Harvey’s mother back and meeting Donna.

6. Lots more Dr Lipchitz – hard to believe he’s only been here a year!

7. More Gretchen & Katrina (we really didn’t need new characters with so many ones already in the show).

8. Donna kicking ass in her job. No more digs at her qualifications. Let her shine.

9. More progress for Donna & Harvey’s relationship! It’s time! Otherwise, what was the point of everything that happened this season?!

10. If this ends up being the last season, Patrick in the last episode. It can be by phone, or in person, but the show can’t end without Mike Ross!

Will any of these happen, who knows, but I have to keep some hope! Until next season, thanks for reading Suitors!

Television Review – The Walking Dead -Episode 7.9 “Rock In The Road”

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Once I’d recovered from the horror of the opening episode of the latest season of The Walking Dead (as much as one can ever recover from that!), I admit to growing more and more frustrated with the rest of the episodes. Having to introduce so many different communities often left me feeling unsatisfied at the end of each week, with very little actually happening to move the overall story forward.

Rock In The Road was therefore a welcome return to form and a start that I hope signals the next half of the season is going to go from strength to strength. Crucially, this mid-season premiere picked up the pace, as we finally see Rick and the Alexandria gang preparing to make a stand against the Saviours. Clearly, this being The Walking Dead, this action is bound to end in death for some (please not Daryl or Michonne!), but it’s the only way forward for the characters and the series and I’m excited at what lies ahead.

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Gregory was not in the mood to join the rebellion. Photo source: AMC

It was fantastic to see Rick and the characters we’ve grown to know so well meet and interact with other communities (their reaction to the tiger was fun) and with Daryl in hiding at The Kingdom, hopefully we’ll see new alliances starting to form. It’s clearly not going to be easy for them to convince others to fight, with the threat of a close encounter with Lucille hanging over their heads and it will be interesting to see on which side of the fight these communities and indeed individuals within them will choose.

Charcter-wise, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes has always been one of the biggest assets to the series and was the reason I started watching in the first place. We’ve been through a lot with Rick and his period of resignation to Negan’s rule was beginning to grate, so thank god he’s getting back to being the leader he has always been. Tom Payne as Jesus is also fast becoming one of my favourites this year and I hope I’m not getting attached to someone with a short life expectancy! I had been hoping to see the original gang (especially Daryl) reunited with Carol this week, but hopefully this will happen as the season unfolds. It was also fascinating that Morgan hid from them that she isn’t actually that far away.

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Two cars + wire = mass Walker destruction! Photo source: AMC

As for set pieces, this episode treated us to one of the most visually impressive scenes in the series to date, as Rick and Michonne dispatched a multitude of Walkers all in one go, using just two cars and some wire. If only getting rid of Negan was that easy!

However the most intriguing part of the episode was what has motivated Gabriel to drain their supplies and run? He has always been weak, but it did seem out of character when he had finally started to step up recently. However, after rewinding the opening scene, I noticed that he wasn’t alone in the car as he drove away from Alexandria, so perhaps he is likely being controlled by others, possibly the group introduced in the final moments of the episode. I’ve never been a fan of Gabriel, so if this storyline gives him a bigger role and purpose, I’m all for it.

Thankfully, after the recent run of dull episodes, Rock in the Road suggests that perhaps the series is taking a turn for the better. I admit I’m dreading the inevitable losses that are to come, but I’m excited again about this series and look forward to seeing what the writers have in store!

The Walking Dead season 7 continues in the USA on Sundays on AMC and in the UK on Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX. You can watch the promo for the next episode “New Best Friends” here

 

Television Review – Suits – Episode 6.14 “Admission of Guilt”

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Another week, another fantastic episode of Suits, as episode 6.14 successfully moved the multiple strands currently running in this sixth season along, as we head ever nearer to the season finale.

The most striking thought I had after watching Admission of Guilt was how well balanced an episode it was. There were wonderfully light, fun moments, lovely emotionally meaningful moments and lots of drama and tension, so much so that I was biting my nails by the end! It was Suits at its best, reminding me of earlier seasons, as we watch the legal manoeuvrings ping back and forth as people’s true motives were revealed (let’s face it, wasn’t it obvious that man had more at stake than his marriage?).

The main focus was Harvey and Mike’s pursuit of a legitimate case against Velocity Data Solutions, in order to achieve their ulterior motive of getting Mike a hearing for admission to the Bar. It’s a storyline that enables us to enjoy all the aspects that made the series a hit. Harvey is back being the brilliant tactician he is, finding a way to bend the circumstances to his (and by default here, Mike’s) advantage. Whether it works or not remains to be seen, not to mention the fact he seems certain Mike will come back to the firm, while Mike seems committed to not doing so! Plus how will Mike react if Harvey no longer intends to take the lawsuit forward, if he really cares about those workers?

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Will Mike Ross get admitted to the Bar? Photo source: SpoilerTV/USA Network

There is also some wonderful interplay between Mike and Harvey, which reminded me how much I’ve missed the two of them together playing scenes like these. Their partnership has always been the cornerstone of Suits and it was great to see Gabriel Macht and Patrick J Adams delivering more of their characters’ banter.

We were also treated to another successful partnership between Rachel and Katrina. These two characters have had a rocky history and yet they now respect each other and proved to be a strong team. In an episode focusing primarily on the case and Mike, it was lovely that there was time given to furthering Rachel’s personal journey too. She has always been determined to be a success in her own right and make her father proud of her. Seeing her reaction to someone telling her how much he admires her professionally was a lovely, emotional addition to the episode. Added to that, we also don’t seem to have to worry about Mike and Harvey’s actions jeopardising Rachel’s career now that she will be being admitted to the Bar.

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Katrina (Amanda Schull) & Rachel (Meghan Markle). Photo source: USA Network

Louis’s personal development also continued this week and the more he grows, the more I see him as the logical choice for Managing Partner. This week saw Harvey putting Mike ahead of the firm, letting Louis down and putting his career and reputation (and therefore that of his firm) at risk. In the meantime, Louis continued to try and keep the PSL ship steady. Yes, his plan failed, but he did try and was this another predictable show, it would have been a success. It will be fascinating to see whether he does end up heading the firm in the future.

His relationship with Tara continues to grow too, although I remain sceptical, and can’t help thinking she’ll ultimately break his heart. Their conversation about having more children was quite telling, as her cleverly worded response suggests to me that the topic of children may end yet another of Louis’s romances. Rick Hoffman has spoken about Louis either growing in season 6B or regressing and I genuinely hope I’m wrong that things won’t work out for him.

Then there was “The Donna.” I remain unconvinced by this storyline. I love the light relief it brings to the show, especially when the stakes are so high everywhere else and it did produce some fun moments this week, with Harvey being introduced to another Donna and Donna receiving a pep talk from her electronic self. However, it still feels rather superficial and to some extent trivialises the character of Donna and everything that makes her such a special part of the series. I know creator Aaron Korsh has spoken about Donna’s arc growing in to something that makes her think about what she wants from life, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be converted before the end of series and that this brilliant character isn’t let down.

What is already clear though, is that the writing staff are creating a hugely satisfying back six episodes to this season and I’m intrigued to see what lies ahead for the family of PSL. I’m always impressed how unpredictable a series Suits is. With two episodes left, we still cannot be sure what will happen. I’m starting to get a little concerned that something bad is brewing for them, but I love that the writers continue to twist and turn the storylines in order to keep us guessing! Is it next week yet?!

Favourite Lines this week:

  • Louis to Harvey: “Does that mean you’re never going to go mudding with me?” Harvey to Louis: “Yes Louis, that’s what it means.”
  • Harvey to Mike: “You were the least experienced dickhead I’ve ever met.”
  • Rachel to Katrina about her father’s comments: “It doesn’t make me feel bad. It makes me feel great.”
  • Benjamin to Donna: “This isn’t Westworld! I can’t make her human!”

 

Television Review – Suits – Episode 6.13 “Teeth, Nose, Teeth”

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After two character-driven episodes, although the latest chapter of Suits contained a good dose of character development (more on that later), it was a return to the show’s usual rhythm, as we see the characters navigating New York’s legal and business world, while handling a few personal challenges along the way. Overall, it was an enjoyable hour of television; however it wasn’t as satisfying in my view as the last two weeks have been.

There was lots to enjoy in 6.13, wittily titled Teeth, Nose, Teeth as a reference to Louis Litt and as Louis was my favourite character this week by a mile, I’ll start there. Last week was all about Harvey’s personal growth, but this week highlighted he isn’t the only member of PSL to be experiencing a period of personal change.

After Rachel turns to Louis with news that the legal and ethics committee of the Bar have refused her an interview, he doesn’t wade in, explode and make things ten times worse. Instead, he talks the situation through with his fellow named partner, Harvey, and they agree a strategy together! Louis accepting his and Harvey’s strengths was a stride forward for him. The fact he followed this up with asking for Harvey’s advice on his personal life and then actually handled that situation in a rational, mature and loving manner made me want to cheer!

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Louis Litt (Rick Hoffamn) – character of the week!

I do worry though that his relationship with Tara will not end well. Maybe I’m a pessimist, but she comes across as a woman using Louis’s generous nature to have a reliable support in her life. I’m not convinced she loves him and it’ll be a shame if, after this growth, we still don’t see him happy. In fact, with Louis changing for the better and Harvey yet again skirting around the law, perhaps Louis is becoming the man more suited to run PSL in the long-term and I never thought I’d say that!

As for Harvey, it was great to see him more relaxed this week than he’s been in a long time. He was able to actually work with Louis and even give him supportive advice about his complicated relationship. No longer is this type of conversation “not his area” and I hope we see much more of this side to him. It was also lovely to see Donna and him getting back to the witty banter of past years. Yes, I hope they end up together, but for the moment, I’m fine with the type of fun they used to have in earlier seasons coming back to the screen.

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Mike (Patrick J Adams) finds it hard to sit on the sidelines with Rachel (Meghan Markle)

As well as making peace with Harvey this week (and nailing the best line of the episode when discussing his upcoming wedding!), I was pleased to see Mike forging ahead with his desire to try and help people via his work at the legal clinic.  The fact it wasn’t easy due to his conviction made the story all the more plausible. We saw Mike as a man growing up and trying to do the right thing, even if it’s tough. It was disappointing for me therefore, that the episode ended with him and Harvey yet again looking towards the grey areas of the world to get what they want.

As much as I’d love to see Mike and Harvey working together again, how they handle this plot is crucial. From a reality perspective, if they do succeed in getting Mike a hearing to be considered for admission to the Bar (which is the equivalent of their professional body, not just an exam/committee), I hope they don’t just suddenly magic everything fixed, as that is not how it would work and although this is a television show, the solution they come up with has to be one that could happen in the real world for me to take it seriously. I suppose time with tell. I also hope it doesn’t jeopardise Rachel’s hearing, as that could ruin her relationship with Mike!

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Will Harvey (Gabriel Macht) get to hear some home truths from The Donna?!

We’d heard that this week also marked the start of Donna’s own arc. She’s always been integral to the series and on the few occasions we’ve focused more on her (series four’s Intent as an example), they have been some of the best episodes of the series. Yes, I think “The Donna” is fun, it’s lovely to see more of David Reale as Benjamin and there is potential for some highly entertaining moments by introducing it (picture Louis turning to it for advice and it putting him in his place, or Harvey not realising it’s on her desk when she’s no there and it giving him sass), but I was hoping for something with a bit more depth for her. I have faith in Aaron Korsh and Sarah Rafferty is always a joy, so fingers crossed this doesn’t simply turn in to a gimmicky storyline. Having said that, if Harvey ends up getting disbarred for what he’s about to do with Mike, he may need to live off Donna and her possible millions!

So, overall, 6.13 provided some lovely character moments and although I’m not hugely satisfied with Mike’s decision or the start of Donna’s arc, it did what Suits is best at, which is keeping the audience guessing as to where exactly it’s headed. Will Mike get a hearing for admission to the Bar? Will these actions have consequences for Harvey? Will Mike and Rachel actually make it to their vows (for those of us rooting for the Best Man and Maid of Honour, they better do!)? You can watch the promo for the next episode at SpoilerTV here.

Favourite Lines this week:

  • Harvey mocking Mike: “She have a man purse?”
  • Mike mocking Harvey (and officially joining the #Darvey campaign): “We also need to make sure you don’t *cough* Donna at the wedding!”
  • Louis’s analysis of Tara’s ex: “He’s not just good looking, he’s a god damn Renaissance statue!”

Suits series 6 continues with episode 6.14 “Admission of Guilt” on USA Network next Wednesday in the States and with this episode 6.13 on Dave on Sunday at 10 p.m. in the UK.

Who’s Who? – My suggestions for the next Doctor!

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Peter Capaldi has announced that he will leave Doctor Who during this year’s Christmas special. Personally, I’m disappointed Capaldi isn’t staying for longer. He’s a great Doctor, but I think the episodes he’s had under Steven Moffat have been somewhat patchy and I would have liked to see his Doctor under Chris Chibnall’s new era. Sadly it’s not to be.

The announcement has unsurprisingly been followed by speculation as to who should replace him. I’ve seen some rather wacky suggestions over the last few days, including actors far too famous (and therefore expensive) to take the role and so it made me start to think about who I’d like to see. Yes, I agree some of the names flying around would be great (Ben Whishaw, Bill Nighy, Rory Kinnear etc.), but I just don’t think they are realistic and so I’ve tried to keep this list within the realms of possibility!

I’ll start with a disclaimer – Personally, I don’t see the Doctor as a woman. I know not everyone agrees with this and I respect that, but for me, the Doctor is a man and I don’t see myself as doing a disservice to my gender by saying that. My list therefore reflects my view.

  • Kris Marshall

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I’ve been a big fan of Kris Marshall for years and now he’s leaving Death In Paradise, having him become the next Doctor would keep him on my television screen! He’s quirky, capable of comedic and serious work and would bring a new sparkle of fun to the TARDIS. He’s therefore top of my wish list. He also left Death In Paradise to be nearer his family, so regular work in the UK would be perfect for him.

  • Bertie Carvel

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Bertie Carvel is a fantastic actor, whose stage work is always a joy and although he’s started to be seen more on television (most recently in Doctor Foster), he’s not too famous that having him join Doctor Who doesn’t seem farfetched. I could easily see him handling both light-hearted and darker stories and I can already picture him doing a kick-ass “I’m the Doctor” speech.

  • John Heffernen

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John Heffernen has been one of my favourite actors since I saw him on stage in 2010 in After The Dance. Why would he make a great Doctor? The answer is his versatility. I’ve seen him tackle all manner of roles on stage and each time he brings a new energy to his work. Although this would take him away from the stage, I’d be willing to accept it if he was swapping this for such a plum television role!

  • Rafe Spall

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I’ve included Rafe Spall on my list, but I already accept he may already be too famous to be in the position to be open to taking such a role. As his current role in the National Theatre’s Hedda Gabler proves yet again, he has a wonderful way of being able to pivot effortlessly from a playful to dark (and often chilling – did you see The Shadow Line?!) personality and he’s already proved he can take on strong roles in BBC drama.

  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

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I first came across Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Mr. Eko in Lost and loved the air of mystery he brought to that role. It’s that sense of being a bit of an enigma that I think he’d be able to bring to Doctor Who. With recent Hollywood films Concussion and Suicide Squad on his CV, as well as a brief spell in Game of Thrones, he’s not an unknown, but is still growing in exposure. He’s probably also a good age for the iconic Timelord.

  • Sacha Dhawan

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Sacha Dhawan is steadily building up a solid television career, which has included roles in a two of Mark Gatiss’s projects (the creepy The Tractate Middoth and the story behind Doctor Who, An Adventure in Time and Space), not to mention a role in the latest series of Sherlock, as well as Line of Duty and Mr Selfridge. He’s certainly an actor on the rise, but someone not too well known, meaning he could bring something fresh to the series, while at the same time building his own profile.

  • Stephen Mangan

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Stephen Mangan’s name has come up in connection with the role of the Doctor in the past and I have to admit, I quite like the idea. If the BBC are wanting a more established name, he provides that, while also bringing a solid career of work with him of roles that don’t just include comedy. He’s also suitably quirky (and his friendship with David Tennant could lure the latter back for the odd cameo)!

  • Jonjo O’Neill

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Another theatre favourite of mine is Jonjo O’Neill, who has impressed me on stage with some unforgettable performances. He is also building his television career, with roles in the last series of The Fall and even a small part in the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who. Jonjo has an energy that not all actors possess (anyone who saw him as Mercutio for the Royal Shakespeare Company or in the recent Royal Court play Unreachable with Matt Smith, can attest to this). Anyone taking on the Doctor needs to have a strong screen presence and someone with the mesmerising quality he has would be an ideal choice.

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So, those are my top choices to be the next inhabitant of the TARDIS. What do you think? It’s certainly going to be an interesting time for Doctor Who fans as we await a new series this Spring, as well as any information on what Chris Chibnall has in mind (will he have a writer’s room and who will he pick for it? will he turn to some directors from RTD’s era of the series?).

One thing is certain, it’s Doctor Who’s ability to constantly refresh itself with each new Doctor that makes it so fun to watch!

Television Review – Suits- Episode 6.12 “The Painting”

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Last week’s mid-season premiere, saw the family of Pearson Specter Litt coming to terms with the departure of Jessica Pearson (we miss you already Gina Torres) and Donna approaching a usually off-limits subject with Harvey – his complex relationship with his mother and its impact on him as a person. The fact he even allowed her to discuss the matter demonstrates the steps he’s already made following therapy in series five, but the prospect of him finally confronting his past demons has been highly anticipated by fans of the series.

The great news is that episode 6.12, entitled “The Painting” not only tackles this emotional subject with sensitivity, but proves to be one of the strongest episodes Suits has ever had. The fact that six seasons in, the writers are still producing stories of this quality is a testament to the series as a whole.

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Donna (Sarah Rafferty) providing support as always to Harvey (Gabriel Macht)

The episode has two strands, one focussing on Mike and his pursuit of a fresh start following his release from prison and subsequent decision not to return to PSL and the other following Harvey, as he travels to Boston to try and reconcile with his mother, after 20 years of pain and anger.

After he receives an offer of work at a legal clinic from out of the blue, it’s great to see Mike getting his teeth back in to the law, with work that will truly make a difference to the lives of his clients. He said during his trial that it was these types of cases that made him want to be a lawyer, so hopefully this new path will help him to rebuild his life after prison. I assume his position there will at some point lead to conflict with his former firm, but I guess time will tell. It will also be interesting to see if Mike will ever be able to be a real lawyer, which would be a much steeper hurdle to overcome (although not impossible in the state of NY). In the meantime, this episode allows Mike to start again, with a clean and honest slate. It also lets him be the teacher in the same way Harvey was to him, which is fun to see.

We also potentially see a more mature Louis Litt in this hour, as he puts his anger towards Harvey aside for the sake of the firm and steps up to the reality of Specter and Litt being a team. I really hope this lasts and that the rest of the series sees more teamwork between these two.

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Brothers reunited – Billy Miller & Gabriel Macht

The heart of this story, however, is Harvey and we see more character development here than we have to date. Those that view him as an arrogant, cocky, detached individual haven’t been paying attention to the facets of his character, which we have gradually seen since the series began. Hiring Mike helped give Harvey someone to protect and care about, having Donna in his life helps give him perspective, but even with such influences, Harvey’s emotional limitations have always remained and these were a direct result of his childhood and subsequent relationship with his mother as an adult.

I’ve seen some comments online about him having a childish reaction to his mother’s behaviour, but that’s too simplistic a view. It wasn’t simply the fact that his mother repeatedly cheated on the father that he adored (although had you understood that you’d caught your mum cheating from as young as he was the first time, then it would be bound to affect you). The real damage was due to his mother asking him to cover for her and putting responsibility for any fallout if he told the truth on him. He may have been a young man then, but the pain and mistrust and indeed guilt that would cause a person cannot be underestimated.

If you watch episode 5.10 before this one, it reminds you of just what past difficulties the Specter family had and when you combine this with the flashbacks here to his father’s funeral, you see what a mountain there is to climb to heal their wounds.

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A step towards forgiveness – Lily Specter (Brynn Thayer) & her son move forward

What the writers do wonderfully is show the past pain immediately before the current reality. It adds to the tension, as we know how much is at stake. Having the scene at his father’s wake directly before the dinner with his mother, really heightens how big a step this trip is for Harvey. A couple of years ago he would never have boarded the plane. It’s made all the more emotional and sad when we learn how he’d tried to make peace seven years ago, before coming face to face with Bobby.

Brynn Thayer is fantastic as Lily Specter and we see how she is similar to him in some respects, as they are both stubborn individuals; had she considered her son seven years ago, she perhaps could have foreseen what Bobby’s presence at his father’s funeral would do to Harvey. True, he could have handled it better, but had Bobby not been there, the last seven years may have been so different. Crucially their relationship and therefore the pain they each hold, feels very real and believable.

A new chapter for Harvey & Donna?

There is also a strong performance from Billy Miller as Harvey’s brother Marcus, who has always been in the middle of this broken family and has perhaps suffered more than anyone. He lost his happy family, which resulted in his later problems and then had to accept he could never have his whole family together. We’ve always been aware that his brother meant a great deal to Harvey and its his revelation that he didn’t bother to tell him he was seriously ill, which has the biggest effect. Harvey can no longer deny the pain his continued anger is causing to more than just himself.

Gabriel Macht is simply superb in this episode. He has always been able to display the many facets of Harvey’s character and I’m still irritated that his work during series 5 in particular wasn’t acknowledged at the awards. Yet, in this hour he manages to take his performance to another level, as we see both past and present Harvey and the pain they feel. However, its the raw vulnerability of the character that packs the biggest emotional punch. We’ve never seen Harvey this exposed and the final scene with Lily is truly heart-wrenching, as we see him forgive her as well as himself.


His journey then comes full circle; back to the office, back to Donna. She has been his strength and support all these years, gently helping to open him up to emotions and it’s lovely to see him acknowledge this, but also that he wants her by his side as he starts a new, more positive chapter in his life. Let’s face it, he could have put the picture up on his own, but he wanted her to share that moment with him. As someone rooting for these two, I’m excited to see how a more emotionally open and happy Harvey will choose to move forward, especially as we know that Donna’s life is going to change in some way over the next four episodes. Whether this leads them to one another, or if Aaron Korsh will hold this back until nearer the end of the show remains to be seen. However, no one can argue that Harvey has never been more ready than he is now to move forward with his life and allow himself to truly love someone.

After such a powerful, emotional episode, I understand next week’s is a more comedic affair, which I’m very much looking forward to. It may be season six of Suits, but the cast and creative talent behind this series is by no means slowing down and with a seventh season already confirmed, I’m excited to see what will unfold over the final four episodes of this year.

Suits season six continues its run on Wednesdays on USA Network in the States and Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on Dave in the UK. For my more general thoughts on the show as a whole, feel free to read my series review. All comments very welcome!