Television Review – Past choices came home to roost for everyone in Suits 8.13 “The Greater Good”

It’s Thursday night, so it’s time for Suits and I have to say, season 8B is just getting better and better for me, with this week’s latest episode continuing the run of strong stories, both the ones that are only here for one week, or the long-simmering ones, that just keep building and building (yes, we all know what the obvious one is, I’ll get to it)!

With the title, The Greater Good, the overarching theme was past choices and actions and how they continue to affect your life, no matter how long it’s been, whether a night, a day, a year, or 13 years……..Almost all of the gang were affected by their pasts in 8.13 and it was a lot of fun to watch.

Let’s dig in to this week’s detail and start at the top of the tree with the Managing Partner……

Louis realised that choosing to step up is not the path to an easy life!

Ahh Louis Litt. Just when he no longer cared about it, he found himself sitting on the throne and this week saw him truly understanding how tough a job it is (which only makes me love Jessica more, seeing as she made it look easy)! It was fun to watch him navigating the waters of his new role, flying off the handle like old Louis with Katrina and Robert, before remembering that’s not who he is anymore and reminding me just why I thought he’d be the best man for this job. His lovely interaction with Katrina was a real highlight. Between you or Brian, Louis, I’d choose you hands down!

Katrina’s choice to have Brian as her associate has consequences

The low-point of last week’s episode for me was the Katrina/Brian thread and I was dreading where it would go next (well, it couldn’t get any worse at least). This week Katrina had to find a way through the emotional wreckage, that would leave both of them unscathed, which was absolutely correct. She is the one in the position of seniority and it’s interesting to see the genders flipped for a change. She technically put him, as her subordinate, in a difficult position (even though, professional lives aside, they were both at fault and his behaviour is just horrible), so tarnishing his reputation was out of the question. I loved her conversation with Donna, which was also nicely used to bring up her “complicated” relationship with someone she works with…….hmm….I not sure I know who that is…..I’m not quite sure the solution is ideal though – they have to keep working together – for a YEAR? I can’t see this ending well……Tread carefully Katrina and Brian, how about you put a photo of your wife on your desk alongside your baby? Remember her? You better!

Samantha’s past turns up at her door, with an insight in to the childhood choices, that have helped shaped her in to the woman she’s become

In 8.10 we learnt about Samantha’s past in foster care and this week we were given a greater glimpse in to that early life through the arrival of her foster mother, who she clearly cares deeply about. This stand-alone story was a lovely thread of 8.13, as we watched Samantha come to terms with the truth of her foster mother’s choice not to fight to keep her (that had to be hard to hear) and with the help of her surrogate father, Robert Zane, she was able to move forward and forgive her, while at the same time use her own past as a way to help save the potential future of another young kid in need. I like you more and more every week Ms Wheeler.

Stu faced the harsh reality of doing favours for PSL/ZSL/ZSLWW (or whatever name it has this week)

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I love Stu. If they’d ruined Stu, I would have exploded! There would have been angry tweets and possibly angry letters and no one wants that, so thank goodness, Stu lives to fight another day as the greatest gunslinger. I thought he was mad to manipulate that stock, but he knew the risks, whether he wanted to admit it or not. Having said that, I did feel sorry for him, being another person getting caught up in the shady world our favourite law firm tends to keep slipping in to, especially when it looked as though Harvey really wasn’t going to be able to fix it. The whole “I’m Harvey Specter. Don’t mess with me” line really isn’t working as well as it used to these days. Thankfully, Donna came up with the way to save the day – the “We’re all guilty here, let’s just pretend it didn’t happen” solution! It certainly covered Harvey, Donna, Stu, Sean Cahill, the annoying trader whose name I’ve already forgotten, not to mention capturing Katrina and Brian too! My one sadness is that this may very well spell the end of his flirty friendship with Donna, which would certainly be a loss. Will we ever see Stu again? If not, it was fun while it lasted! It was also lovely to see Sean Cahill back, as his relationship with Harvey in early season six was one of the best aspects of that time in the show and it was a reminder of just how many great guest actors this series has had. Heck, it was even nice to see Joe Miler pop up and be doing well.

……and then there was the BIG one……the story thread that’s been fuelled by so many past choices and mistakes that it could power Manhattan…….

All those Darvey choices from the past continuing to dictate both Donna and Harvey’s current behaviour

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been introduced to the new man in Donna’s life and I have to say, I think he’s pretty great (and fantastically played by Sasha Roiz). A man in his early 40s, with seemingly little baggage, who’s kind, thoughtful, successful (and not arrogant), witty, charming and rather sexy. They don’t exist in the real world do they? Also, crucially in my opinion, the focus was on him and Donna; their flirting (as inappropriate as I thought it may have been to call a client stupid) and their first date, culminating in that fabulous last scene, where Donna had a man in front of her being direct about how incredible she is and how much he wanted to be with her. I don’t think I even wrote the word “Darvey” in my last review, as the foundations were being laid.

This week………could there have been more Darvey subtext? Personally, I feel sorry for Thomas. He seems too decent to deserve the inevitable heartbreak that’s coming his way at some point and in any other world, he’d absolutely be the man for Donna Paulsen, but let’s face it, we all know the truth (sorry Thomas).

First things first, I’m thrilled Donna has moved on. That may be a controversial statement for some, but honestly, I’d have been more frustrated had she not. Yes, she’s clearly harbouring unresolved feelings for Harvey and yes she did lie about not feeling anything when she kissed him, BUT she did make a move (as questionable as the timing was). She then wanted to talk about it. He closed that down. He wanted a promise of no repeats and when she then raised their blurry lines, it was Harvey, thanks to his own fear at his emotions, who said it didn’t mean he wanted more – to the woman who not that long ago told him she wanted more of something *insert long sigh here.* What’s a woman to do? Sit and wait and see if things change? Ultimately the choice was Donna’s and she’s chosen to see if she can find happiness with someone else. Life is short and none of them are getting any younger. Ultimately it’s her life and her choice and she isn’t trying to hurt Harvey. He’s hurting himself.

On to this week – how was the morning after the night before? Well, on the surface, it’s all going swimmingly. Early morning banter and kisses, supportive phone calls and three nights together in a row? All very promising, except that this week Donna’s new relationship seemed to be used at every opportunity to remind us of one thing and one thing only – HE ISN’T HARVEY! There’s the morning coffee (which won’t have vanilla), the dramatic pause before she admitted to him she “overslept” as though she wanted him to know, but chickened out of spelling it out, and the conversation with Katrina (who can be added to the list of people who clearly know about the the Darvey tension), which both raised the topic of Harvey and also highlighted that Donna is doing everything she can to ignore that mess. As she said herself, it’s about falling for someone who has nothing to do with that firm. She’s papering over her Harvey feelings, the same way he buried his by dating Paula and seeing her so keen to see Thomas again, to forget about her life and her feelings, felt very true to life. Sometimes we all need to run away from things for a while.

And while Donna is trying to move forward, Harvey is growing more and more aware of his choices, whether he’s ready to acknowledge them or not. We’ve seen him in therapy talking about being alone and this week made that very clear. The two closest people in his life were unable to take his call. They were both out, living their lives, because unlike Mr Specter, they know that life isn’t long. Gabriel Macht is always fantastic in this role and he is a master when it comes to the scenes where the story is all in his face and that final scene was beautifully played by him. The balance of the light, jokey message to Donna and the pleasure at wanting to tell Mike about his day, sinking in to a much sadder place, as he admitted he missed his friend, before gazing off in to space in his empty apartment. Oh, Harvey, I still love you and my heart did break a little for you, but this is an existence of your own making. You could be spending the night with someone you care about if you’d just been brave.

What’s exciting about this though is that he still has time! And as I’ve thought for quite a while now, the final push he needs is to see Donna with another man; one who realistically could make her happy. It’s the only thing left that has the potential to shake him out of this pattern. And once he’s awake to the truth of his feelings……? Well, then it’s all going to get very interesting indeed!

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So, all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed The Greater Good. The story strands threaded together well, the writing was strong and it served as a reminder of just how strong this cast is, both old and new, regular and recurring. It’s episodes like this that make me sad to think that there’s not much longer left. All we can hope for is that the remaining episodes will be this satisfying.

Looking Ahead – time for the angsty fun to really begin!

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So, what’s coming next week. From the promo and the photos, it seems we’ll see Harvey meeting Thomas. Oh, that’s going to interesting. Scottie is also back and it seems winding up Harvey, making social calls to Donna’s apartment and going head to head with Samantha. I’m already excited!

 

See you next week, same day, same place!

Suits season 8 continues next week with 8.14 “Peas in a Pod” on Wednesday on USA Network in the US and on Thursday in the UK thanks to Netflix. You can watch the promo here: https://youtu.be/uisdLHPIoCc

(Photos from: Suits USA/USA Network)

 

 

 

 

 

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Television Review – Dates, Mistakes, Prunies & a Whole Lot of Gambling in Suits 8.12 “Whale Hunt”

It’s Thursday, which here in the UK is Suits night for me (thanks as always Netflix UK!) and after a solid start to 8B last week, I was looking forward to seeing what came next. Before we get in to the detail, one of the big themes across 8.12 was gambling, whether it was Katrina and Brian with their emotions (just no, but I’ll get to that!), Donna with her heart, or Louis and Harvey at the poker table. Some of those gambles paid off and some did not, but overall, this was a strong episode of Suits, which only served to remind me how, although no show can get everything right, I’ll truly miss this one once it comes to an end.

Right, enough of the negativity (well, until I get to THAT Katrina plot line). We have 14 episodes left after all. For the moment, let’s get in to the positives and this week, for me anyway, there were quite a few of them.

Valerie Weiss really knows how to shoot a great looking scene!

If I see that the director of an episode of this show is Valerie Weiss, I start to get excited and that’s simply because her visual taste is just so damn good. Remember that closing shot of Donna and Harvey so near, yet so far? Or the lovely Donna, Louis and a mug of mud moment? Of course you do and this week the tone was set from the very first shot, starting on Donna’s gorgeous shoes and soaring from there, through to the lovely shot of Harvey and Louis sharing that drink, to Donna’s glow throughout. Hurry back Valerie! You’re welcome any time!

Donna takes a risk on love and I am thrilled! 

We knew this was coming for months, but tonight we finally got to see the blossoming of a new romance on the show and I know this statement won’t be popular but, I loved it. I don’t think we’ve ever seen Donna look as excited as we did this week, once she’d realised that Gretchen was right – there was nothing stopping her from dating this great guy, who wanted to take her out. She doesn’t work for him (sure, the firm does, but it works for countless clients), she’s not breaching any ethics (can you hear me, Paula??!) and it’s about damn time we saw her smile like that. Sure, I would have liked Donna and Harvey together long ago (well, more specifically in 7.16), but they aren’t and for the moment, I’m all in for Donna taking us along for the ride as she has some fun!

And let’s face it, Thomas Kessler is a GREAT guy! He’s clearly smart, successful, charming without being sleazy, funny and already seems to have worked out who Donna is and what she needs. The moment he showed he was two steps ahead (like she usually is), having made reservations was a lovely touch – it wasn’t “Hey, I knew you were in to me, so I obviously made plans.” Instead it was “I was hoping you’d change your mind and I think it’s time someone put in the effort for you for a change.” Not only was it pretty sexy, it was also exactly what Donna needed and the tone of her voice as she answered that he was right said it all. This is a woman who’s realising that life is not long (no matter what Harvey thinks), that she’s not getting any younger and that it’s time to put in the effort in to herself and her life. After watching Donna taking care of everyone else’s lives for years, it was about time!

Plus, it can’t be denied that it seemed to be a damn lovely date. I’ve been on some crappy ones and the good ones stand out; where the conversation is easy, where you have things in common and can joke with each other without fear of offending, or being too familiar. Thomas seemed to have done his homework on Donna too and she seemed somehow younger and a little shy, or perhaps thrown by her feelings. A man who knows about theatre – now there’s a keeper (well, for the moment. We have an endgame to get to don’t forget).

Is it moving pretty damn fast? Yes, but they aren’t in their 20s, or even 30s, where perhaps playing the game is part of the fun for some people. They are older and know what they want and I loved Thomas’s direct approach about wanting to lay his cards on the table about his feelings (take note, Harvey) and that last scene truly made me smile. Is he being set up as too perfect? The perfect juxtaposition to a certain poker player with so many complicated flaws? I’d still go all in and say yes, but for now, I’m going to enjoy this storyline. It’s something new and it’s giving us a chance to see Donna in a new situation and that’s fine by me.

Harvey & Louis work out their issues over poker & prunies!

First it was couples therapy and now Harvey is enjoying a nice cold (caffeine free?!) prunie with Louis?! What on earth is happening?! Harvey  and Louis’s complex relationship has always been a highlight of Suits for me, but I’ve always enjoyed them most when they are on the same team, as friends and colleagues. It’s a genuinely lovely dynamic and 8.12 showcased it perfectly.

We started off seeing Louis call a truce after the strains of last week and offering the olive branch to Harvey in the best way possible – by giving him permission to do what Harvey does best (well…..until he messes it up….). We then had the inevitable rivalry, leading to the clashing of egos, followed by them making up. Honestly, as Dr Lipschitz pointed out, this is a relationship and like any other, it needs to be worked on! The poker scenes were great fun, especially once Harvey decided he really didn’t give a toss about landing the client (he seemed a bit dull anyway) and gave beating Louis his full attention.

Was he a douchebag to Louis (or as Louis put it “an equal opportunity asshole”)? Was it reminiscent of the Harvey of early years, bullying him to boost his own ego? Yes on both counts, but what was different and highlights just how much they’ve both changed was that, after a kick up the ass (I’ll get to Queen Gretchen), they could move forward. Harvey actually apologised (I’m still waiting for him to do the same to Donna, but I’ll take what I can) and so did Louis and hearing them each acknowledge what a brilliant lawyer the other was, was a genuinely lovely moment. And over a prunie no less. Last week popcorn with Robert, this week prunies with Louis. What’s next Harvey? Going with Gretchen to her weekly mahjong game (actually, that would be hilarious)?! You know you could have been going home with Donna by now…..right?! In the meantime, I hope this brotherly relationship continues.

All hail Queen Gretchen! 

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I love Gretchen! I loved her from the minute Aloma Wright appeared in season five. You just knew she was going to be fantastic and Whale Hunt was one of my favourite episodes for her so far. Not only did she encourage Donna to put herself first for a change and leave the children to fight, while she got her freak on, but she kicked Harvey’s ass! It’s true, she’s a better match for Louis when it comes to who she works for, but I admit I’ve missed her interactions with Harvey from season five and seeing her hand him his ass in his own office, while also managing to drop in to conversation that Donna was off enjoying herself (I wonder why they did that……*cough* Darvey endgame *cough*), was glorious! Who didn’t love the visual of adult Louis and Harvey in bunk beds?! Don’t you dare retire any time soon, Gretchen!

Alex & Samantha are actually getting along and it’s a surprisingly enjoyable! 

I’ve made no secret of the fact that the “Whose name is going up on the wall” rivalry plot line drove me mad and so finally seeing Alex and Samantha getting along was rather refreshing. Will I ever care about them the same way as I care about Donna, Harvey and Louis? No, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in them and this week made a change from the shouting and aggression of 8A. It was also fun to see Alex caught in the middle between two confident, successful career women! His trepidation about getting caught in the cross fire made me like him more. He knows how good they both are, respects their ambition and wants to get the hell out of the way! No thinking he’s better than them, no presumption that he can resolve their issues for them because he’s a man. He respected them enough to let them get on with it! Bravo Alex!

Gambling with Katrina’s character is NOT good entertainment

……..Then we come to the storyline negatives and they all revolve around one horrible gamble, which ended in total disaster and that’s Katrina taking a chance on being able to work with Brian without complications. You should have cashed in your chips and gone home before it was too late Katrina………

I really really don’t like this storyline.

It was one of the points on my fears list for 8B before the series returned. Katrina is a wonderful character and Amanda Schull has always played her brilliantly, right from the start when she was the bitchy associate putting down the mighty Rachel Zane! So far season 8 was doing some if its best work when it came to Katrina – seeing her struggle with the pressure of being a woman wanting to climb the ladder in what remains a man’s arena, hearing her painfully voice her confusion about the aspects of her life that may still be lacking and seeing her navigate new ground by actually making a friend. There is so much they could be exploring with her, but what do they choose? Another storyline around potential cheating and infidelity! Come on! Enough already. We get it. Everyone in this show has to have a cheating story, but NOT Katrina and Brian. Plus, just when I didn’t think my stomach could turn more after the perfume sniffing scene, we then had the almost kiss while he’s holding the baby he’s recently had with another woman?! NO NO NO!! To be honest, it’s just as offensive as the therapist dating her patient story decision.

I’m not sure what the point of this is, but enough already. You’re ruining two lovely characters. Stop it!

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So, that’s it for another week. What’s on the horizon in 8.13, entitled “The Greater Good”? It seems Stu is in trouble with the SEC following the questionable actions he did to help Harvey / the firm in season 7 and Sean Cahill is either going to turn a blind eye, or bring even more trouble. Oh and then I’m guessing we’ll have Donna arriving late for work after her night and Harvey’s life will get a whole lot more painful! One thing about Suits – it’s never dull! You can watch the promo here: https://youtu.be/lsaoTvTfiZw

See you next week!

Suits season 8 continues next week on Wednesday night on USA Network in the US and on Thursday in the UK via Netflix.

(Photos: USA Network/Suits USA)