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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Television Review – Suits 8.10 “Managing Partner”- where it’s clear who’s really running the firm

Well, we’ve reached the mid-season finale of Suits season eight. It’s certainly come around fast and this week’s episode tied up some plot lines, but left others (it’s obvious which one sticks out) frustratingly at a standstill.

My immediate reaction to 8.10 was a feeling of being underwhelmed. First, it’s a weaker mid-season finale when compared to many of the others we’ve had in the past (think Louis finding out about Mike, Mike getting arrested, Jessica leaving, last season’s kiss) and that did surprise me. I’d been expecting a big moment to keep us dangling over the next four months and although I’m relieved in a way that there isn’t something to drive me nuts about over the hiatus, it also felt rather anti-climatic.

On that note, I’ll delve in to the specifics.

Alex vs. Samantha – Part 2

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I have to say, I’m so pleased the “fight” for Named Partner is over! It’s taken up so much of 8A and I’ve not been hugely invested in the outcome, so I’m very happy everyone is moving on. Louis spoke my exact thoughts when he said he was “sick of this shit.” You’re preaching to the choir, Louis. In itself, the case in which Alex and Samantha fought this out wasn’t bad, it was just a bit dull and what became the most interesting aspect of the whole storyline was the further insight we saw in to Samantha (more on that later) and the consequences that flowed from the battle for the firm as a whole.

Samantha Wheeler’s history continues to unfold

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To say she’s only been in the Suits world ten episodes, Samantha Wheeler has certainly made herself very much at home and I’m a fully paid-up member of Team Wheeler. This week provided deeper insight in to Samantha’s history, her own and her history with Robert Zane and both elements proved fascinating.

We’ve all known that Samantha and Robert’s history clearly ran deep and very likely involved something shady and this week we saw that this was partly true. Zane has indeed been her mentor and surrogate father for 12 years (what is it with this show and 12 year periods?!), but we also learnt how that relationship came to be. For a split second, I thought Robert was going to be shady, but thankfully that wasn’t the case and instead, it was his dodgy fellow partners, who had pulled a Forstman on him to keep him quiet. The reveal that it was only with Samantha’s help that Robert took control of his firm was a lot of fun and truly gave validity to why he’d be so keen to back her, no matter the promise.

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We also discovered some further information about Samantha’s personal life, all of which provide plenty of possibilities for further storylines. We now know she has never known who her parents are, so having them reappear could be explored (although, no cheesy shocker of her being Harvey’s half-sister or something, please). I was also intrigued by the line of dialogue in the flashback, which suggested that she may have spent time in the military, as the federal agent referred to her previously serving her country. If she had no family and moved through the foster system, perhaps joining the military provided her the family she’d never had. Again, this is something else that could be explored in future episodes. It’s all very promising and I’m looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for the newly-branded Named Partner.

Congratulations to Louis Litt!

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First of all, let’s all take a moment to enjoy Louis Litt finding some happiness! It wasn’t too long ago that he was sobbing in to Rachel’s arms over the loss of Tara, or was being mugged at gunpoint. Yet, by the end of 8.10, we welcomed the new Managing Partner and I was thrilled to see I actually got something right when it comes to the plot, as I mentioned in my review of 8.09 that I thought Louis should be in charge. That’s not something I’d have contemplated before season seven and yet, since then, Louis has slowly started to show he’s the right man for the job at the moment.

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Right from the start of this week’s episode, Louis was the mature leader. He made clear the fight between Alex and Samantha needed to be clean, something Harvey and Robert couldn’t stick to. He then advised Katrina not to risk destroying the firm by getting involved; advice Donna gave to Harvey in the same episode. He was putting the firm above anyone’s own personal need. So, by the time the battle between four people was coming to a head, Donna’s strategy was the clear and obvious solution and hearing Louis lay down the law to Harvey and Robert was fantastic. He was calm, serious and a leader. Jessica Pearson would be so proud, Louis!

On the personal front, we also learnt that he and Sheila and going to be parents. I’m pleased for Louis, even though I’ve not really been a huge fan of the way Sheila has conducted herself this year. I can only hope that all the unresolved questions hanging over them (religious upbringing, who will spend less work time etc.) don’t create any insurmountable hurdles. I certainly wasn’t a fan of his guilting Sheila in to giving up work. Not cool, Louis. Finally, highlighting just how much Louis has grown up recently, his last scene with Harvey was a delight to watch and top marks to Gabriel Macht and Rick Hoffman. Harvey telling Louis he’d be an excellent Managing Partner and outstanding father was one of the best bits of 8.10. These two used to be so aggressive and angry with one another and now their friendship is very real and the affection in that hug was lovely to see. Hopefully this will survive Louis taking the reigns!

We all know who the real Managing Partner is (and it’s not Louis)!

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In last week’s review, I commented that the title of 8.10 could refer to Donna, based on all the relationships she’s managing so damn well and that proved to be partly true. We saw Donna, yet again, keep the firm from turning in to a pile of rubble, this time by convincing Louis to step up. It makes perfect sense. Harvey has already acknowledged that, deep down, the role isn’t the one for him and I agree. Plus, last week suggested Robert may be starting to re-evaluate his priorities and he also knew that it needed someone else to step between him and Harvey. It was fantastic to see Donna demonstrating her talent for reading the situation and the personalities involved and saving everyone from themselves!

It was also lovely to see Katrina come to Donna for advice about Harvey’s proposition, which I have to say, I wasn’t impressed with. Harvey, Alex, Samantha and Robert can play their games, but dragging Katrina in to it was crossing a line in my view. I was also a little surprised that Donna advised her to do it, especially as she has first hand knowledge of the risks of pretending to be someone you’re not to obtain documents. From now on guys, leave Katrina out of your dodgy shenanigans! Even Harvey by the end realised who the true managing partner is and he looked pretty impressed by the realisation too.

So….No review would be complete without discussing Donna and Harvey, so let’s do it…..

The frustrating Darvey dance continues (insert deep sigh here)

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It’s ironic that I’ve ended this first half of season eight feeling frustrated when it comes to Darvey, as I’ve been one of the few people who has remained fairly positive throughout the last nine episodes. For me, I’m happy as long as I can see some sort of narrative plan and this seemed to veer a bit off course by the end of 8.10.

The subject of Darvey probably needs a post all its own (shout if you’d like one!), but in essence, I’ve enjoyed seeing some tension this season. Following the wedding not everything was resolved. They’d been through a lot and hadn’t really moved past it, but season eight began with them trying to get back on decent ground, which with these two includes the flirting of years gone by. When that blatant flirting was replaced by arguments rather than a resolution, after 8.05, I could understand it. Harvey’s abandonment fears resurfaced and affected his emotions and we saw some of the underlying resentments both still carry in the wake of season seven.

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It felt as though we were building to something credible. There was no after works drinks and they became more and more distant, as Donna grew more independent in her role as COO. Clearly, I knew we wouldn’t see something definitive to close out this half season; that would be too simple, but I did expect something that made sense and as much as I enjoyed the last scene between them, it felt out of sync with the tone that had been building between them. It was a scene that would’ve fitted up to 8.05, but coming at the end of 8.10, I sensed it was more of a “we should give the fans something” moment, which personally, I’d have been happy without. Is the tension and resentment behind them? Are they “back to normal” again? Who knows now.

I think the back half of season eight is going to be crucial for this particular relationship, especially based on the information we now have on what is to come. Do I think Darvey is endgame? Yes, but I may change my mind come the end of 8.16.

Speaking of the future. Looking ahead to 8.11-8.16 (WARNING: Spoilers ahead!)

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I end each post looking ahead to the following week’s episode. As we won’t see the series return until next year (I’m guessing January, as there’s no Winter Olympics in 2019), we have less to go on. All we really have is the information gleaned from the interviews that have surfaced in the last day and the very brief promo.

First, we know the firm will become Zane, Specter, Litt, Wheeler, Williams. The stationery firm responsible for their branding needs must be thrilled by how much money all these changes bring in! It was never about beating someone else to the job for Alex. He just wanted the title and so I’m not surprised that the choice Samantha gave him at the end of 8.10 has resulted in him putting himself last.

Second, something covered last season is going to come back and apparently “sort of rear its head for one or maybe more episodes.” Time to start thinking about season seven again if you can bear to. As long as it’s nothing to do with Paula! That’s a dealbreaker for me!

Finally, creator Aaron Korsh has stated that in the back six episodes they’ll be delving in to Donna’s backstory AND giving her a love interest. Taking these two elements one at a time, I’m thrilled that we’ll be learning more about Donna on a personal level. We still know very little, so there’s so much scope here. Will we meet her mother? Does she have a sibling we’ll meet? Will we see her first starting out at the DA’s office, before Harvey, or get a glimpse in to her life away from the firm and the people in it? I want all of it, but I’ll settle for some of this list! We’ve explored Louis, we know all about Harvey’s issues, so it’s time for a focus on Donna and it’s the element I’m most excited for in 8B.

As for the love interest? Well……..I’m torn about this, which is driven by the uncertainty about the show’s overall future. The consensus seems to be season nine is looking good and if that’s true, then I’m all for Donna having the chance to have someone come in to her life and give her another possible path. If season eight was to be the last, then this idea seems nuts, as it would mean they only had six episodes to resolve everything (including Darvey finally coming together). So, assuming we have the time, who could this love interest be? Someone new, or someone from her past, with whom she’s already deeply connected? We’d get to see another side of Donna and also, I hope, another side of Harvey. Perhaps, seeing someone else take her attention and affection is what he needs to realise what he could lose. It took Paula’s presence for Donna to evaluate her feelings for Harvey. Having him do the same, perhaps in therapy, would be a brilliant parallel. Plus, it could set them up for the moment most of us are waiting for!

It’s now a waiting game. See you all in 2019 for new episodes, but expect a couple of Suits-related posts before then! Thanks for reading!

Suits season eight will return in early 2019 (I hope) on USA Network in the US and via Netflix in the UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Television Review – Suits 8.08 “Coral Gables”

I’ve been enjoying season 8 of Suits so far. Yet, this episode was the first one that I’ve really felt was quite dull and more filler than meaningful stories, with a number of strands feeling unresolved by the end. Either that, or it was setting up a number of possible storylines to come in the next couple of weeks, in which case, maybe I’ll look back on it more favourably than I do at the moment. Oh and the title was a bit silly too (referring to the place both Gretchen’s friend and Samantha’s foe had moved to – boring). They really could have come up with better.

Let’s get in to some specifics:

A missed opportunity when Louis’s past comes back to haunt him

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I was a little disappointed with the Louis storyline this week. Leaving aside (for the moment) my feelings on the Sheila/Louis relationship, the handling of the bullying element of the plot line was rather strange to me. Yes, Rick Hoffman was very very good (as always), especially in the therapy scenes and I did love Lipschitz’s method of getting adult Louis to resolve the issues he’d been holding on to since his teenage years; that scene between Louis and his younger self (and that lovely hug) was wonderful work.

However, why not address the consequences of his behaviour with the bully?! Are we to believe he didn’t remember Louis, despite just how cruel he was to him? Or was he pretending because he (hopefully) feels ashamed of himself? Plus, was it merely coincidence that the homework Louis used to do for him was Biology? You know, a key subject for someone who is now a hugely successful fertility expert?! Wouldn’t it have been a more satisfying storyline to have Chaz acknowledge his behaviour and admit the help Louis gave him in Biology is what helped put him on the path to who he is now?! Instead, the plot still felt unresolved. Or maybe this is the first set up for the future – will Sheila have surgery? Will something go wrong?  Time will tell.

Oh and I said I’d come back to Louis and Sheila. I continue to feel their relationship is headed for trouble, or maybe heartbreak. It just feels a little off. Plus, this week we had Sheila arranging to see a fertility doctor without telling him, or thinking he’d want to be there?! Their relationship still seems very much all Sheila’s way and I’m bored of it. There are other relationships that need attention (I bet you don’t need three guesses for what I’m thinking about). Move along please!

Romance for Samantha & Harvey? Nah, they’re more like annoying siblings!

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Samantha and Harvey bonded this week and realised they’re more alike than they wanted to admit. Well, that was obvious to all of us, right down to the boxing. Catch up guys! I’m guessing there will be some fans out there panicking about the possibility of this becoming the next disastrous romance for Harvey, but I can’t see it happening. They just don’t have that chemistry and their interactions / dialogue felt more like siblings than anything else to me; the taping her mouth shut; jockeying for a boxing match and general needling of each other isn’t flirty or romantically slanted in my view; these are simply two competitive, work-hungry people, who want to show the other that they’re just as good as they are.

I also enjoyed Harvey trying to find out more about her history with Robert (as I’m curious too) and his awareness that she’s clearly opened up more to Donna, much to his annoyance. It was also good to see Harvey setting the line for her in terms of how things work at the firm. No threatening / ruining the life of anyone whose intentions are decent and honest, Samantha. Harvey may work in the grey, but there are lines you don’t cross.

Again, this storyline felt somewhat unresolved, or a set up for future plots. Will there be a similar set of circumstances in the future, just as Harvey referred to and if so how will Samantha handle it?

The consequences of a simple mistake for Gretchen. Yes, it was a bit dull, but hilariously, it’s one of the few plausible legal plots the show has ever had!

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First things first, I love Gretchen and Aloma Wright always brings so much to her all-too brief appearances, so it was great to see her having her own storyline this week. Yes, it was a bit boring, but it’s one of the few semi-plausible legal plot points that Suits has covered since it started! Could a deal fall apart all because someone didn’t send a piece of paper? Yep and it would be a nightmare for the lawyer responsible. Would a senior partner be handling the signing of his own documents? Less likely, but hey, Alex needed a plot line this week (although, personally I’d have rather had Katrina). In the real world an associate would have been responsible for that and there’d be a copy of the signed document, sent electronically as back-up to the original but, in truth, the story served one (or possibly two) purposes.

First, it showed that Alex is decent enough to not fire Gretchen to save face with his client (which many partners would have wanted to happen). Is this again showing he’s perhaps the more honest choice for Named Partner than Samantha? Possibly. Second? Well, this is where I again highlight this episode’s amount of potentially unresolved / set-up plot lines and this one concerns our favourite COO. Having Donna come to Gretchen and help restore her self-belief after a knock back was lovely, but the episode went further than that, with the mention of Gretchen hoping Donna has someone there for her to do the same if she’s feeling like she should quit. It felt jarring to me. What was the point of it? Was there none and it was simply Gretchen being kind, or is this laying the clues for something happening that puts Donna in that exact position in the near future?

Donna still in need of her own personal storyline

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Following on from the strange dialogue from Gretchen I’ve mentioned above, we’re still waiting for Donna to have her own independent storyline this season. She continues to be the strong support system for everyone else (this week Gretchen), yet we still know little about her. Soon we’ll know more about Samantha after half a season than Donna after eight! Whether we’ll be seeing Donna considering leaving this year remains to be seen, but what is certain is that she needs a personal storyline to truly make her character have the depth she (and Sarah Rafferty) deserves.

A non-existent week for Donna and Harvey

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I’ve used the word “unresolved” a lot so far in this review and when it comes to Darvey, it’s the most apt word there is! We’ve had flirting, fighting and bubbling resentments for Darvey so far this season and it seemed strange this week didn’t have any content whatsoever. True, we learnt that Donna did indeed tell Harvey about Samantha’s plan, which was a relief. Mind you, we all know Donna’s no liar, right? Well, not unless it’s about Harvey anyway, so we should’ve had more faith that she’d make sure he knew something shady was going on. I’m confident this integral plot line (and let’s face facts, it is integral) still has further to go over the next two weeks.

Talking of unresolved….

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How’s Katrina? Has she made some more friends yet? Achieved senior partnership? I understand not all the main cast can have significant story time every week, but as Katrina’s storyline has been one of the more interesting this year, she better be back next week! Also, has Harvey had any more therapy? He clearly has emotional baggage to unpack; that comment to Samantha about him not being able to say what he’d rather be doing, for a start! We all know it involved strawberries, whipped cream and Donna, so go and let it off your chest to Dr. Lipschitz, Harvey. We’ll all feel better when you do!

Looking ahead (only 2 episodes left until that loooong hiatus………..)

 

Next week is already the penultimate episode before the mid-season hiatus begins, so I’m assuming we may start to see hints of what could be involved in the mid-season finale. 8.09 is called “Motion To Delay” (which would be an ideal tagline for a Darvey movie, but that’s another story) and from the promo, it seems it’s war between Samantha and Alex. Don’t get me wrong, I like Alex. He has a good heart and wants to succeed without screwing people over, but I admit, I’d vote for Samantha. The idea of two partners from the same firm going against each other in court sounds ridiculous. Have they not heard of a conflict of interest?!

The only other story element we know is that next week sees the return of an old foe – there are so many options, but from a narrative perspective, will it be a more personal foe, such as Malik or Travis Tanner (especially as that would be very interesting from a Darvey perspective) than someone like Hardman? Only a week to find out!

Suits continues with 8.09 “Motion To Delay” next Wednesday night on USA Network in the US and on Thursday via Netflix in the UK. You can watch the promo here: 

 

Television Review – Suits 8.07 “Sour Grapes” (and that’s definitely not just the wine)!

I’ve got to give the writers on Suits credit, their episode titles often have multiple meanings and that was certainly the case this week. One of the plot lines may have involved a vineyard, but there were more sour grapes flying around this week than those in Robert Zane’s wine vats (and that’s before we get to Louis’s problems). This week also marks the return to directing for Gabriel Macht (his last episode was in season 4). It can’t be easy acting and directing yourself and he did a great job.

So, on we go to the episode itself, starting with the actual grapes.

Robert Zane – building relationships and dealing with plenty of prejudice

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I’ve loved seeing Robert in charge the season, but Donna was spot on a few weeks ago when she pointed out to him that he needed to let the team work how they work best. He’s clearly taken that advice on board and as well as appreciating Donna, this week he was building a better relationship with Alex, asking for his help over Samantha’s on a personal matter.

Alex has been the character I’ve been least bothered about this season, so it was great to see him having a more interesting role this week, working alongside his boss, but not being afraid to let him know when he was being unreasonable. It was also satisfying to see Suits yet again raising the subject of racism and how that doesn’t just disappear, no matter how successful someone is. Yet, this story also highlighted that it’s not just race that can cause prejudices, but also the resentments that arise when you are seen as being successful by those who may be jealous of that success. Not only did Robert have literal sour grapes, but he also had to work through the sour grapes held by the wine-making community he’s now a part of, who saw him as the big Manhattan ego muscling in. Having the show tackle real and interesting issues is always a big plus. Also, I have to say, I love Zane owning a vineyard! Time for a firm retreat where they all get merry on the wine (well, once he actually makes some they can drink)!

Oh and line of the week goes to Robert Zane. You all know the one!

The road to parenthood is not as easy for Louis & Sheila as they’d hoped (in more ways than one)

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It wasn’t just Robert Zane’s storyline this week that was a very real subject, as we saw Louis and Sheila tackling a difference of viewpoint on parenthood that, if left unresolved, would lead to sour grapes between them later down the line. On mistakenly thinking that Sheila was already pregnant (I knew it wouldn’t be that easy), they discovered a new problem – their wildly different wishes regarding the religious upbringing of their child. I had wondered this a while ago, but assumed they’d have worked through this already. I mean, it’s not a small point. Louis wants his children to be Jewish. I’d have thought this would be obvious to Sheila. You would also think two adults of their age would have talked about this before getting pregnant, right? The fact they hadn’t is another red flag to me that these two haven’t truly thought their relationship through and makes me wonder if it will ultimately end in tears and getting engaged when such serious issues are still unresolved didn’t seem to be the wisest choice to me. Time will tell I suppose, but it was great to see another very real issue that many couples have to resolve being highlighted on screen.

 

Samantha continues to become a team player (but also has her eye on the ultimate prize)

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We’ve seen Samantha really start to develop her relationships over the last few episodes. She’s already in with Zane, her and Alex now have respect for each other and their ultimate goal and last week saw her bond with Donna. 8.07 saw her working with Harvey and continuing to earn his respect, as he learns more and more that she is a valuable team player and can get the job done. I’m betting Harvey isn’t fluent in Chinese (and let’s face it, she’ll be fluent, because nothing else would cut it for this woman)! I love seeing the team coming together and the more I see of Samantha, the more I love her, but I’m not blind to the fact she’s still playing the game to get the big prize.

The same way the writers have slowly made viewers like her, she’s doing the same with the rest of the gang; doing everything right to position herself for that promotion. She probably worked out on Day 1 that to get Harvey on side, she not only needed his respect, but also needed Donna in her corner. After this week, she seems to have achieved both of these goals (and established a kick ass duo with Donna along the way; that last scene where they made Harvey twitch with discomfort was so damn satisfying!). Does that mean they can’t trust her, or that she’s a bad person? Nope. But the writers also aren’t painting her as an angel either. In fact, she’s probably one of the most complicated personalities in the team and that’s a big plus to the series. After this week, Alex really needs to up his game, as Samantha is moving her pieces in to position on the board, ready to take the game. If she does, I hope the sour grapes that follow won’t break the firm.

Wait a minute, David Fox has a heart? Who knew?!

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The more we see of David Fox, the more I actually like him. He’s proved to be a ruthless opponent more than once, but this week we saw he actually has a heart and loyalty to the person who helped him become the success that he is. Sound familiar Harvey? If there’s one way to earn Harvey’s respect, it’s loyalty and it was fun to see him have to admit that David Fox isn’t quite as bad as he thought he was. I’m also interested to see what else the writers have planned for this character, especially now they’ve shown us he’s a better person than we initially thought. Maybe he’ll ask Donna out again? Maybe she won’t say no a second time, especially after Harvey’s behaviour this week!

Harvey & Donna – both harbouring resentments this week. The question is, when will they boil over?

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Oh, Harvey. There are weeks when you really irritate me and this was another one of those weeks. This episode saw Harvey sour with a number of people: David Fox for what he assumed are his questionable motives and smugness at having Harvey as his bitch (anyone else love that?!), Samantha for her input in his case (until he realised he needs her to get the job done) and then Donna, for making the deal with Fox in the first place. The first two in this list were resolved in Sour Grapes. He’s on good terms with Samantha and now has a professional respect for his newest client.

What about Donna? The issues raised between these two in 8.07 ran much deeper than David Fox’s case and posed some interesting questions for the rest of 8A. Harvey may have been angry about Donna’s deal (one that he gave her carte blanche to make), but what was more worrying was his declaration that she’s in her job because he “put her there.” Excuse me, Harvey? Did you really just say that?! Have you reverted to your 7.01 alter-ego? It was a statement that made me want to reach in to the television and strangle him with my bare hands! Hell, even Robert Zane now sees Donna’s value in her role and both respects and appreciates her, which he made very clear. Pops and Red are indeed becoming a wonderful team in their own right.

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Donna really shouldn’t have to be reminding Harvey that she earned her position, even though seeing her stand her ground so passionately was glorious and it highlighted he’s not the only one feeling sour in this “friendship.” Not only did she remind him she deserved her job, she voiced more than once that he always does what he wants, regardless of anyone else and crucially, that he didn’t respect her (okay, so she also flagged she isn’t a liar, which we all know isn’t totally true when it comes to a certain kiss, but I’ll let that slide). Her conversation about gifts with Samantha also highlighted that she doesn’t feel he appreciates her either. Those aren’t small things and unlike his relationships with Fox and Samantha, by the end of this episode, Donna and Harvey weren’t “back to normal.” Donna is clearly still angry with Harvey at the end (that last expression on her face is not a happy one) and possibly angry with herself for having feelings for a man she has perhaps suspects will never be able to give her any more than he already does.

It’ll be very interesting to see how this plays out over the coming the weeks. There are clearly emotions they need to deal with. Will that happen? Will it lead to other emotional revelations? Will Donna decide to move on and find fulfilment with someone ready to give her that and if so, how would Harvey react to that? Anything’s possible, but I’m becoming more certain that all these bubbling resentments have to boil over. Will there be fireworks? God, I hope so!

Looking ahead……..

We already know next week involves something from Samantha’s past, which she needs Harvey’s help with. Her backstory is still unfolding, but we know she had a difficult childhood and went through some form of trauma. With the episode title being “Coral Gables” I’m wondering if this will refer to a foster home or orphanage where she possibly grew up? There’s also apparently more obstacles for Louis on the path to having a child and from the photos, it seems he’s in need of Dr Lipschitz’s help to process them. My biggest question though, will Donna and Harvey pretend their unresolved issues don’t exist? Probably.

See you all next week!

Suits continues next week with episode 8.08 “Coral Gables” on Wednesday night on USA Network in the US and on Thursday via Netflix in the UK. You can watch the promo here: https://youtu.be/0ls6nHWMtwQ 

(Screenshots courtesy of USA Network)

Television Review – It’s all about relationships in Suits 8.06 “Cats, Ballet, Harvey Specter”

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After last week delved in to the personal lives of some of our favourite characters in such a satisfying way, the sixth episode of the current season of Suits was all about relationships, some personal, some professional and some walking the fine line between the two. The result was an episode that covered quite a lot of ground in a short space of time and reinforced just how strong season 8 has been so far.

With so much to cover, I will dive straight in to these complex relationships!

Donna and Samantha – Both on the same team after a shaky start! Long may they reign!

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I thought Samantha was fantastic from the start, but the more we see of her, the more she develops, as do her relationships with those around her. So far, she’s come to an understanding with Harvey and Alex, two of the people she’d not got off on the right foot with. The other person with whom there were unresolved tensions was Donna and this week saw these two strong women finally work as a team to kick ass and I loved it!

First observation – Donna was in the wrong for once and it was refreshing to see. She’s by no means perfect and at times I think people forget that. She doesn’t always read a situation correctly and this week saw her blinded by the personal and not see the truth of the situation. Let’s face it, as Alex said, if Samantha thinks something’s shady, you should probably believe her and Alex and Samantha were right to look closer and stop that money in the interests of the client who’d donated it. Having said that, Samantha also learnt a valid lesson; that she needs to trust people sometimes, which she was able to admit by the end. She should have talked to Donna before acting on her suspicions and when they did team up, look how fantastic it was and I’m looking forward to seeing how these two can hopefully form a strong friendship. Heck, maybe Samantha has a handsome friend she can introduce to Donna to help Harvey wake up!

Katrina’s very realistic work struggles continue to be a highlight of the season

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Amanda Schull made an impression when she first appeared in the series, as the rather nasty associate out to show how good she was, even if it meant hurting people on the way (who can forget her comment about lawyers sleeping with paralegals, but marrying other lawyers to Rachel?!) and has now thankfully become a much more well-rounded character. In fact this season’s storyline for Katrina is one of my favourites so far.

More than any other plot line, it’s the most realistic to me, highlighting a number of issues that professional women face in the workplace and especially one as male-dominated as the legal world. We’ve seen Jessica at the top, but we didn’t see her struggle to get there and we watched Rachel achieve the early successes of starting down her career path. Katrina is perfectly placed to highlight the obstacles and difficulties between those two levels; that the higher you manage to rise, the harder it gets, both professionally and also on a personal level.

Before I get to her friendship with Brian, which was the heart of her story this week, look at what else was covered – despite doing everything asked of her for a promotion, she’s now got to give more, because another male partner is supporting the male candidate. We don’t know him, but it’s on point in highlighting that women often have go that extra mile to get on the same playing field with the men. Then we had the suggestions of what focussing on her career has perhaps cost her. She’s likely always put her energy in to academics and then career goals over friendships and relationships and the older you get, the more that choice starts to resonate, which we’ve already seen this season with Katrina, but which came up again here. She’s given up a lot to get to where she is and perhaps it’s not everything she hoped it would be. Funnily enough, I saw parallels between her and Harvey this week, as I think he’s coming to some of those same conclusions too.

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We also need to look at her relationship with Brian. There’s been a lot of discussion online about these two, as they seemed to grow closer and with Brian being married and always seeming to be a good guy, I was certainly uneasy about a possible affair-style story. What we saw instead this week, was much more fascinating. We’ve learnt Katrina has perhaps let her personal life suffer and so the fact she’s actually formed a relationship with Brian was special to her. It’s possible Brian is her first real friend (well, besides Louis) and she came to realise that, which made me feel truly sad for her.

Did she see it romantically? I don’t think so, but equally, I think she came to a realisation that she also needed to draw some lines, on seeing how it could potentially head that way even if that wasn’t her intention (after Donna’s delicate intervention, where she of course wasn’t talking about her heart overruling her head when she kissed Harvey…of course not…they’re just friends….). Katrina is Brian’s superior after all and had she been a man acting that way with a married female colleague, it may not have seemed quite as sweet. As for Brian, I think he’d never in a million years think someone like Katrina would be interested in him and so the idea of romance probably hasn’t even occurred to him. Some shows would have gone down the affair path and I’m pleased Suits didn’t do that. They have enough cheating storylines after all!

Assuming she’s now going to become a Senior Partner, we’ll see what’s next for Katrina, but I hope she finds fulfilment in whatever form that is and if she does want a sweet guy, there’s always Benjamin!

Mike may be gone, but the Harvey / Louis bromance is a thing of beauty! 

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Having seen the promotional images for 8.06, the biggest anticipated storyline was how on earth Louis was able to drag Harvey to see his therapist! I’m a huge fan of Dr. Lipschitz (always played to perfection by Ray Proscia) and after all the work he’s done with Louis, we were all wanting him to work his magic on Harvey and it seems we’ll get our wish! Louis talking about his friend to his therapist has also been comedy gold and this week was no exception (the “I’m right, you’re wrong, touch his hair and leave” line had me cracking up), but the couple’s therapy scene was fantastic.

Seeing Harvey expressing his views about how he perceives Louis and then watching it morph in to revealing some of his own insecurities was so fascinating to watch and thank god this therapist is actually good at his job and spotted it too (more on Harvey later). The bullpen has been a recurring location recently for these two complicated men and it made perfect sense for their final scene to take place there, in the place they met and worked for years. Seeing Harvey admit his fear to Louis was such a step forward and Rick Hoffman played Louis’s joy at realising they’re not that different brilliantly. They really are brothers and it’s lovely to see that bond after all those early years of fighting and one-upmanship. I still think Louis’ll win on the mudding topic one day too. Go on Harvey, you know you’re curious about it!

Speaking of Harvey…….

We’re finally starting to get to the root of Harvey Specter’s emotional issues and it’s so exciting! 

I’ve said it before in my reviews for this season, but I’ll say it again, Harvey Specter has come so far personally over the course of this show. Gabriel has said in interviews that he was trying to push that development early on, having been used to working on films in the lead up to getting this role and having to learn to reel it in and let it develop over time. The fact the series is still going eight seasons in means we’ve finally been able to see Harvey’s professional, but more importantly, personal, journey and we’re now getting to the really interesting depths of his emotions.

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We all know that sometimes our problems can mask underlying issues we don’t want to face and for Harvey, his relationship with his mother has always been the focus. Now that he’s been able to reconcile with her and try and put that behind him, he’s left facing emotions that he can’t avoid / brush under the emotional rug. Last week’s domestic story affected him deeply, as he freely admitted to Donna and in 8.06 we saw the wider reaching effects of that on his personality. Gone was the more playful, flirty and mature Harvey of recent weeks and after his brother’s call about his divorce, back was the angry, hurtful and colder man of seasons past. It only highlighted how much he’d changed to see him lashing out again. Yes, he had a point being irritated about Louis not putting the client first when it was an emergency, but Lipschitz was spot on in reminding him that he’s acted that way for years and Louis just had to put up with it! Plus, there are better ways to make a point than lashing out and as Donna reminded him, he’s not that man anymore.

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Harvey’s solo session with Lipschitz was a stand out scene this week, with Gabriel Macht really demonstrating what a brilliant actor he is and how well he knows Harvey. Seeing him acknowledge that he’s envious of Louis and his recent personal “wins” was quite something, only surpassed by his heartbreaking admission of his fear of ultimately being alone, which is now so deep-rooted that he sees it in everything, even in scenarios which a person perhaps wouldn’t – yes, a client leaving is bad for the billables, but a personal loss? Not many people would take that personally, nor would many people feel the loss of a sister-in-law (especially one they haven’t had a close relationship with) so acutely.

As someone who firmly believes that this fear of abandonment is the biggest reason for Harvey not facing his true feelings for Donna, it was incredible to see just how strongly that fear grips him and helps highlight why, although 8 seasons in, he’s still not ready for that relationship. He’s closer than ever to being ready and now we all need to pray to the God that is Lipschitz that he can help him take those final steps. Like Katrina, he’s realising that professional success isn’t everything. Do I think he wants a family with Donna? That’s too simplistic a conclusion, but seeing Louis forging a family life away from the office is causing him to look at himself and hopefully with some proper help, he’ll realise that it’s time to take a risk to have more.

Bravo to Alex Williams, who did some “Donna whispering” of his own this week

It’s usually Donna working behind the scenes to bring people together, so it was fun to see Alex taking on that role in 8.06 in order to help Donna and Samantha resolve their trust issues with each other. I’ve spoken before about how Alex’s storylines have been falling a bit flat with me, but I do like his character and this week he was instrumental in brining these two brilliant women together. Bravo Alex!

Looking ahead…….

 

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Next week is 8.07 “Sour Grapes”, which was also directed by Gabriel Macht and is the episode I saw being filmed during my recent Toronto holiday! What do we know so far? We know that David Fox, their delightful landlord, is back, no doubt stirring up trouble when he comes to call in that free legal advice from Harvey. Could that be the sour grapes? Probably!

We also know that Louis’s sister Esther returns, so it’ll be interesting to see whether that’s for business or because of something personal. From the setting of this photo and the detail in the promo that Sheila may be pregnant, I’m guessing it’s personal. All I really want though, is Dr. Lipschitz to sit Harvey down for as long as it takes to help him see what (or, more specifically who) he needs in his life to finally be happy!

Suits continues next week with 8.07 “Sour Grapes” on USA Network in the USA on Wednesday night and via Netflix in the UK on Thursday. You can see the promo here: https://youtu.be/8W7ltB1iHcw

 

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