Television Review – After nearly 2 years, Game of Thrones is back! – Season 8.01 “Winterfell”

Blimey it’s been a long wait hasn’t it?! For those of us who’ve been waiting since August 2017 to see the next chapter of this sweeping drama, this week’s return of Game of Thrones is the absolute definition of Event Television! Few shows have garnered as much critical and public praise and the anticipation for this final season is on a par with that for any huge blockbuster movie. Having had a day to digest the season opener, I’m ready to put my thoughts down on paper.

The finale saw the Army of the Dead reach The Wall, as it tumbled in to the sea in minutes thanks to the power of a newly undead dragon (RIP Viserion). The opening episode of season eight picks up not long afterwards and is appropriately named Winterfell, the focus for the upcoming battle and where most of the key characters are converging.

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable episode, although certainly not the best this series can be, which is perhaps a testament to how good it is, I suppose.

Anyway, time to dig in to the detail!

Lots happened…….perhaps a bit too much?

For those who read my predictions post on this season, you’ll know I mentioned that I was particularly looking forward to all the reunions and although I suspected they’d happen fast, I didn’t expect so much to be crammed in to the season opener, which is also the shortest of the six episodes. Taken individually such significant moments were wonderful, whether Ayra and Jon’s heartfelt reunion, her playful catch up with Genrdy, or her coming face to face with The Hound again. We also had Theon finally stepping up and rescuing Yara, among many other story points, which I’ll get to. For me, however, it started to feel a bit rushed.

Callbacks to the first episode had me rather nostalgic!

The choice to open the episode with the arrival of Dany and Jon’s army at Winterfell made perfect sense, but what made this even more special for fans of the show was the call-backs to the very first episode. Seeing the little boy running to try and get a good vantage point to watch the Royal procession immediately had you thinking of Ayra and seeing her standing alongside, observing his excitement and perhaps also thinking back to so many years ago was quite special, particularly with the exact same music cue playing over it. It perfectly captured just what a journey these characters have been on since the story began.

Frosty receptions are always fun to see (and that’s before Jaime and Theon are thrown in)!

This is Game of Thrones so it’s never going to be fluffy unicorns and the cold of the North extended to more than the climate, with Sansa and Daenerys not exactly hitting it off and  the Northern houses, led by the always awesome Lady Mormont, less than impressed with Jon pledging himself to a foreign Queen. And I haven’t even covered Bran yet, whose whole demeanour these days is cold and detached, although I did love him greeting Jon and Dany with a “Hi, your dragon is on Team Night King and the Wall has come down.” Well played Bran! Sansa’s wariness of Daenerys is also understandable. She’s been through so much, that trusting anyone doesn’t come easily and Dany was rather aloof. I also loved Tyrion reuniting with Sansa. They had learnt to respect each other by season 4 and after all she’s been through, Sansa no doubt knows he’s a decent man. Yet, a highlight of the hour for me was Sansa being more astute than all the key players in the game, by knowing immediately that Cersei was lying!

We’ll have to see how the atmosphere thaws…….although with Theon and Jaime about to join the party, neither of whom are particularly welcome in Winterfell, the thaw may be some way away!

Bravo Theon! I’m proud of you!

It’s been an up and down journey for Theon Greyjoy and for the audience as we’ve watched him make so many poor decisions and suffer the consequences in such a brutal fashion. The inclusion of Theon’s rescue of his sister was perhaps the most surprising element of this episode for me, as I assumed that would crop up later. It was so satisfying to see and then for Theon to want to go and fight for the Starks. Bless him. I thought he’d die saving Yara, but now it seems he’s likely to meet the end of his story back where we first met him, defending the family and the lands he betrayed, which would do his storyline justice.

The Jon & Dany romance – it doesn’t do anything for me.

This is going to be controversial for some, but I have absolutely zero interest in the supposed blossoming romance between Jon and Daenerys. I think they are both fantastic characters and will clearly be a formidable team, but I just don’t buy them as a couple. Jon’s in love with her, according to Sansa. Really?! He’s known her five minutes and we already know that Dany may show outward affection and yet feel nothing, as she admitted to Tyrion on saying farewell to Daario Naharis. Having them share a moment in front of cave/waterfall, which immediately called back to Ygritte didn’t help matters either, nor does the fact that I just don’t think they have any romantic chemistry. Don’t all yell at me at once!

Dragon riding – too soon? 

We’ve all been waiting for Jon Snow to ride a dragon, but as it finally happened in this opening episode I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps it wasn’t the right time. I’m assuming the scene was partly included to provide those gorgeous aerial shots of the North, flagging that the Army of the Dead had some way yet to go before they arrive. Yet, while it was fun to see Jon trying to navigate this new experience, wouldn’t it have been much more powerful to see him climb on to Rhaegal after he discovered that he was in fact a Targaryen and son of the man for whom that very dragon was named? Oh and while we’re on the animals, where’s Ghost?!

Cersei on the rebound from Jaime and still as power-crazed as ever!

Having demonstrated how little she cares about standing together in the season finale, Cersei’s plan to assemble a stronger army, with the help of The Golden Company was achieved this week, with the return of Euron Greyjoy and his fleet. Left with no other choice to keep him on side and no doubt to try and rid Jaime from her mind, she gave Euron exactly what he wanted – herself and in a twisted way, they are probably the ideal match. If she is really pregnant (something I was never convinced about last season), it seems logical she’ll pretend it’s Euron’s now. Hard luck Jaime, although I think you’re better off out of her clutches…..which brings me to……

Don’t you dare use that crossbow Bronn!

I have always liked Bronn, who is a much more developed and entertaining character in the series than the books and he’s had fantastic relationships with both Tyrion and Jaime over the years. It was therefore incredibly unpleasant to see him seemingly accepting the job of killing the Lannister brothers with Tyrion’s “favourite” crossbow! In any other show I’d never believe he’d do it, but this is Game of Thrones, so who knows…….

The big secret is finally revealed!

We’ve all been wondering how Jon would be told the truth about his parentage. Would his friend Sam sit him down and break the news gently, rather than leaving the task to the rather emotionless Bran? Ummm…….not quite and I loved that decision. Having just learnt the tragic news about his brother (let’s face it, his father was no great loss), a heartbroken and understandably angry Sam broke the news rather more bluntly than expected. With his Queen seeming dangerous and unpredictable, Sam is fuelled by the need to have Jon know he’s the true ruler, rather than simply to tell him where he really comes from. It was the perfect way of raising the bigger question of whether Dany is the right choice to rule too, or if she is too close to her father’s dangerous tendencies. Personally, I think Jon would be the better ruler and he is always ready to sacrifice for what is right for others, rather than himself. As Sam says, would Dany do that? Probably not. I’m certainly intrigued to see how she takes the news when she finds out!

Creepy dead children…..lovely……

I remember watching episode one of the show all those years ago and seeing the dead little girl nailed to a tree come back to life freaked me the hell out! This week, we had an echo of that with poor little Lord Umber being used as the centrepiece for the Night Kings’s latest creative mural. you really shouldn’t have sent that kid away from Winterfell, Sansa! The moment he opened his eyes and screamed was so very disturbing and yet I couldn’t help focussing more on the pattern. It looked a little like the Targaryen sigil didn’t it?

Ending with a gut punch and I loved it! 

In the same way as the episode opened with echoes of episode one, it was perfectly book ended with another scene which took us straight back to the beginning, as Jaime arrived at Winterfell to come face to face with an “old friend.” As soon as Bran said he was waiting for such a person, I knew who he meant and the moment of revelation filling Jaime’s eyes was superbly played, making this perhaps the most powerful moment for me! It reminded us of just how dreadful Jaime was back then and how along the way we’ve grown to like him despite those actions. Having him see Bran again was therefore a brilliant moment for both the character and everyone watching. These two certainly have to have a chat! The big question though – did Bran stay in that same spot all night?!

So, all in all, it was an enjoyable hour of television and it’s fantastic to have the series back again, but there is room for improvement, which with five episodes to come is not necessarily a bad thing!

See you all next week!

Game of Thrones continues next Sunday night in the USA on HBO and in the UK on Sky Atlantic (at 2 am and 9 pm). You can watch two official behind the scenes look at 8.01 here: https://youtu.be/DkdbetJTZGA and here: https://youtu.be/ha8Qsx6_OBw and the trailer to 8.02 here: https://youtu.be/R6YCfVe4eR0

(All photos/screenshots belong to HBO/Game of Thrones)

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My Game of Thrones, Hopes, Fears & Deadpool for season 8!

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The time is finally here (well, for those of us in the UK who have work tomorrow, it’s tomorrow night, but that’s close enough)! After 20 months of waiting since watching the Night King bring down The Wall in August 2017, it’s time for the final season of Game of Thrones to air! I admit, I’m conflicted. I’ve been looking forward to this for so long, but now it’s here, it’s bittersweet in knowing one of the best shows on television and one that has raised the bar in terms of what television can be, is coming to an end.

I’ve been mulling over what I think will happen in these final six episodes for a long time and it’s a testament to how good the series is, that I still haven’t got a firm view about how it will all end in six weeks time. That aside though, I have come to some decisions about who I think will survive and who will perish along the way, even if I’m not absolutely sure how it will happen.

So, I thought I’d set out my deadpool here and then see how wrong I am later on!

The Dead – those who won’t come out of this alive

Let’s start will the deaths (this is Game of Thrones after all!). Some I think are more obvious than others. Some I really hope happen and others I know will make me very sad indeed.

1. Jaime Lannister

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I’m starting with my favourite character (yes, you heard that correctly). He’s had such a fantastic progression throughout the series and is by far the most complex and fascinating character in my opinion. I’d dearly love to see Jaime make it through the battles to come, but I just don’t think it’s likely. He’s been known as a Kingslayer and Oathbreaker all his adult life, so it makes sense that he’ll go out in a blaze of honour and sacrifice. Will he die protecting Bran? Get double-crossed by his sister, who kills him in anger at his desertion of her? Die in the arms of Brienne, the person who he could perhaps have actually been happy with, were this a different show? I’m not sure. I think he has more time to come with Cersei, so perhaps he’ll make it though the Battle of Winterfell. Whatever the method, I see Jaime dying and Brienne taking it upon herself to write his good deeds in the blank pages of the Kingsguard book to keep his memory alive. It makes me sad just thinking about it.

2. Ayra Stark

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If any of the Starks aren’t going to survive, my money would be on Ayra going out in a violent blaze of vengeance. There are still names on her list after all. I can see her teaming up one more time with The Hound against The Mountain, so perhaps that’s when she’ll die, or she’ll wear another face in her pursuit of justice and take one risk too many. I may not be sure how, but I’m fairly certain Ayra will be a casualty of season eight.

3 & 4. The Hound & The Mountain

I don’t see either of the Clegane brothers surviving the series. It may be too obvious to say they die trying to kill each other, but I still think this would be a fantastic way for them to go.

5. Sir Jorah Mormont

I’m amazed he’s lasted this long, but I’ve always pictured Jorah dying saving someone else and I’ve not changed my mind. Dany may be too obvious, so perhaps it’s Jon, or even Sam, who saved his life in season seven.Whoever it is, I don’t see Sir Jorah having a long life in Westeros.

6. Cersei Lannister

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I’m still not totally certain about this, as it feels far more true to the show if Cersei was to somehow make it through this in one piece, but there is the prophecy that her little brother will kill her, so I still think her days are numbered. Will it be Jaime or Tyrion, or Ayra wearing Jaime’s face? I’m intrigued to find out.

7 & 8. Euron & Theon Greyjoy

While the main action is happening at Winterfell early on, Theon has headed off to save Yara from their deranged uncle. I think he’ll succeed and finally find some peace for all the mistakes he made in the past. However, I also think he’ll die in the attempt, taking Euron with him.

9 & 10. Melisandre & Varys

These two seem destined to die, particularly Melisandre, whose ancient origins are still a mystery, but seem likely to play a vital role in the battle ahead. She also told Varys he’d die in Westeros. By the end I really won’t be surprised if they’ve each fallen, their roles finally reaching their natural end.

11. Greyworm

He was never afraid of death until he met Missandei and now they are happily together it clearly can’t last, so one of them has to die. It could be either, but I’m going to bet on Greyworm for now.

12. Beric Dondarrion

He’s lived this long for a purpose and once that’s been fulfilled, I don’t see him lasting very much longer.

13. Bronn

Who’d have thought Jerome Flynn would become such a badass?! I love Bronn and he’s had some fantastic moments. Would I love him to get his castle? Yes, of course, but I se him dying at some point.

14. Drogon

Yes, sorry folks, but I think another dragon will bite the dust and seeing as Dany is bound to be riding Drogon around, I think he’s the most likely victim.

…….and the big one

15. Jon Snow 

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As much as I’d love to see Jon survive, I just don’t think it’s going to happen, as surely one of him and Dany has to die and so many clues have been given that suggest Dany will end up having Jon’s child, that were she to die that wouldn’t happen, so for that reason alone, I predict Jon Snow being another casualty of the final battles. Maybe he sacrifices himself to the Night King to save the world? It’d certainly be an honourable exit.

The Living (because not everyone can die, right?!)

1. Tyrion Lannister

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Maybe it’s because I love him so much, but I just don’t see Tyrion dying this season and someone needs to be there at the end to help build the new world. Maybe he and Sansa find out they are actually well suited? Maybe he gets his vineyard and makes wine in the sunshine. Whatever the future holds, I see Tyrion being the only Lannister making it out in one piece.

2. Sansa Stark

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She’s certainly survived so many ordeals already, but I don’t think Sansa will die. It just doesn’t serve any dramatic purpose in my view and I admit, I quite like the idea of her and Tyrion ending up together, forging a new story for the Starks and the Lannisters.

3. Bran Stark 

I’m still on the fence about Bran, but I’m going to say he lives, to perhaps become the new watcher in the North, keeping an eye on the world of Westeros, which he is now so clearly not a part of. Then again, maybe the Night King is coming all this way for Bran and his fate is already sealed.

4 & 5. Sam Tarly & Gilly

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Ahh Sam. He’s done so well to last this far hasn’t he? Who’d have imagined how important he’d become and I can see Sam taking on the role of the most important and respected Measter in the years to come, writing down the stories of the last eight seasons, so that future generations will never forget. As for Gilly, I don’t want her to die, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

6. Brienne of Tarth

I love Brienne and as much as I’d love her to have a happy ending with Jaime, I’m realistic in saying she’ll survive to serve the new ruler and will be the one to write up Jamie’s good deeds in the Kingsguard book.

7. Sir Davos Seaworth

He’s said so many times that he’s not a fighter and is a liability in battle and yet he’s managed to last this long and I now see him making it all the way to the end of the story. To say he started off with Stannis, in what was for me one of the most dull story strands, he’s gone on to become one of my absolute favourites and if he does survive, I’ll be more than happy with that.

8. Tormund

I admit, I almost said dead and still think that’s very very possible, but seeing as some people have to make it through and I really do love Tormund, I’m going to hope he survives!

9. Yara Greyjoy

I expect her delightful uncle has removed her tongue if he’s really wanting to be cruel, but I do see her surviving the series, thanks to Theon stepping up and making up for his earlier cowardice.

10. Podrick Payne

I don’t know why, but I see Pod surviving and that’ll be fine with me.

11. Gendry

I can see the son of Robert Baratheon surviving the wars and becoming an important figure in the new world. Maybe he’ll be legitimised, or maybe he’ll just prove himself to be a strong and respected warrior. Shame I don’t see Ayra surviving too, as I always liked the two of them together!

12. Rhaegal

Surely one dragon has to survive?? I hope so, so I’m guessing it’ll be this one.

……..and the big one

13. Daenerys Targaryen

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As I’ve said before, I can’t see both Jon and Dany surviving the series, so I’ll guess that the Mother of Dragons survives and her and Jon’s child becomes the new ruler in the years to come. Mind you, this is Game of Thrones, so perhaps that’s all too happy?!

………..

So those are my predictions at this point. I’ll probably have changed my mind again tomorrow, but it’ll be fun to see just how wrong I am by the end!

As for what else I’m looking forward to this year?

Reunions!!

The biggest one for me are the reunions, which I assume will all take place in episode one. There’s Jaime and Tyrion, Jaime and Bran (sorry about pushing you from that tower Bran…!), Tyrion and Sansa, Jon and Ayra, Jon and Sam, Brienne and Jaime. As season seven’s finale proved, the interactions between all of these characters are so loaded now and these reunions will all be incredibly satisfying to watch.

Battles!!

We’ve all heard by now that The Battle of Winterfell is going to be huge! It took 55 nights to shoot, which is just insane and it’ll no doubt be an exhilarating episode to watch. Winterfell aside, there’s still the matter of Cersei and the Golden Company, so not everyone can die in the North. Will we see the survivors taking on Cersei, or will the Night King have flown over Winterfell, heading straight for the capital? Anything is possible in this show!

Mysteries Solved??

Top of these for me is whether Cersei is really pregnant, as I honestly don’t believe it. We don’t have enough time for a pregnancy to come to term, so clearly if it is true, it’s not going to end well. Next on the list is what on earth the Night King wants! Is it Bran he’s after? Did the new Three Eyed Raven change the past? Is this all his fault and the Night King is coming to set things right? He certainly isn’t desperate to sit on that uncomfortable throne!

…………

There are so many questions and very little time left to wrap all of this up, but one thing’s for certain, it’s going to be a hugely exciting and emotional six weeks!

Game of Thrones starts tonight in the USA on HBO at 9pm. Here in the UK, you can watch it on Sky Atlantic at 2 am live along with the US, or wait until 9pm Monday night. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

So……………let’s delve in to the detail!

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

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

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

 

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(Photo by: Shane Mahood/USA Network)

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

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

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

A not unwelcome return for Daniel Hardman

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

……………….

As for the rest……..well………

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Looking ahead…….

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

I cannot wait!

Photos: USA Network

Darvey collage: @lovedarvey

Television Review – Suits 8.15 “Stalking Horse” – This week was all about emotional trauma – past, present and future ones to come…

Welcome to another Thursday night Suits fans! I have to say, I’ve been anticipating watching this episode all day, all too aware that it was very likely going to be an emotional roller coaster. So, with a glass of wine, I settled in for the penultimate episode of season 8. One word probably sums up the content of this week and that word is traumatic. Every plot line on offer in “Stalking Horse” involved dealing with emotional traumas, some old, some new and some that the event’s of this episode will very likely lead to in next week’s finale.

Diving straight in……..

Louis (and Samantha?) confronts a very emotional past trauma

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Starting with the past, Louis’s mugging was a superb early plot line of season 8 and one which affected Louis very deeply. I thought it was odd how it was never referenced again and so bringing it back in 8.15 was a great choice. It allowed us to see Rick Hoffman shining in yet more heart-wrenching scenes, as poor Louis had to relive such a traumatic experience. Was it bonkers that they’d actually allow a witness to testify before revealing that the case was invalid? Of course. I can’t imagine that would ever happen, but this is a TV show and the fact it opened the door to those great scenes between Louis and Samantha bringing his mugger to justice means I’ll allow it.

Talking of Samantha, this storyline also gave us more hints in to her history, both what she went through and whatever she did with Robert all those years ago. They certainly have a few skeletons in their closet! Seeing Robert so protective of her is lovely and it reminds me of when Rachel was around. He’s desperate for Samantha to stay on the right side of the law. Mind you, I found his last comment to her rather odd. Is he worried in general that she’ll continue to be reckless? OR was it a neat way of flagging how interfering in things you shouldn’t has consequences (can you hear me, Donna??).

Brian & Katrina deal with a horribly current emotional trauma (as does the audience after those perfume and baby scenes from 8.12)!

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Oh Brian and Katrina. I really liked their bond. It was sweet and could have been such a fun, satisfying friendship. And yet…….it’s all fallen apart and all because, unlike another pairing in this show, these two aren’t capable of brushing their growing feelings under the carpet. I suspected the “We’ll work together for a year” solution Katrina came up with was doomed and sure enough, this week saw the end of the road. Am I sorry to see Brian go? In a way, yes, as I liked him, but the whole flirting over his child with another woman ruined it for me and the longer this dragged on, the more I was starting to dislike Katrina. The ironic thing about this whole storyline – if Donna and Harvey had admitted this same truth years ago – that it’s impossible to work with someone you care for, but can’t be with, without admitting those feelings – maybe they’d be in a totally different place right now. All the best Brian. Make sure your new desk has that family photo on it to stop this mess happening again and don’t worry Katrina, you’re fabulous without him!

Quick round of applause to Louis too. Yet again he demonstrated why he’s the best man to be managing partner, acknowledging Brian’s contribution to the firm, his worth as a lawyer and his respect for someone putting family first. Classy Louis, very classy.

And so we come to the storyline with past and present emotional traumas, which this week laid the concrete on a whole skycraper full of new ones……lucky lucky us………..

Donna & Harvey make some very stupid, but very human, mistakes

Well…. it wasn’t an easy night for Donna and Harvey was it? It was painful and tense and deliciously angst-ridden! I have mixed views on some of the content, but what I did love about this week was that both Donna and Harvey made some incredibly stupid mistakes, but these highlighted that they are as flawed as each other and aren’t the superheroes they are sometimes shown to be. They are human and they make mistakes.

Before I get in to those errors in judgment, I will say that some elements really irritated me this week. I don’t tend to agree that the show is badly written, as when there’s so much to analyse, for me that’s a testament to how much is woven in. However, when it comes to Darvey the narrative tends to take occasional leaps off the cliff. We had 7.01 (shudder), then we had the confused up/down path of 8A and this week again seemed to forget what had gone before. Last week ended with a monumental moment – Donna reminded of her feelings by Scottie and then Harvey trying to start a conversation about them relationship! That was HUGE. And yet, the very next day, we’re back to sports jokes and “I’m happy for you” – unlike when Donna said it to him about Paula (and it was clear she was lying), he actually seemed fine with it.

Really Harvey?! Come on. Be brave. Writing of scenes like that actually make me start to think maybe I’ve imagined it all and he really doesn’t love her. In fact that whole conversation between them was weird and felt very clunky and knowing they cut Donna’s “You sure” line (seen in the promo) is just infuriating! Was she meant to challenge his declaration of happiness for her and have him pretend? That would certainly make her more determined to hold on to Thomas. I guess we’ll never know, but the scene seemed unfinished either way. Then there was Donna’s “I’m so excited Harvey, I want to take him out to celebrate” – again, it felt odd, but perhaps this too would have made sense if we’d seen her challenge how he felt and have him lie. I admit, the scenes made me start to get irritated with Donna, but that doesn’t mean I blame her for the disaster that followed (well, not entirely).

Personally, I think they share the blame this week for the disastrous situation they were left in at the end of the hour and I’ll tell you why.

In defence of Donna Paulsen:

As blame goes, Donna isn’t solely responsible for what happened. She was totally in the wrong to put Harvey in the awkward position of telling her information he shouldn’t. Really, had she just swanned off and told Thomas she smelled a rat like she threatened to, that would have solved everyone’s problems! No breaking of privilege and everyone’s happy! She was also in the wrong to then moan to him about putting her in a shitty situation – nope, that’s all on you Red. Own your choice.

BUT – her decision to tell Thomas was very human and believable in my view. She cares about Thomas, she sees what a decent man he is and how much his business means to him. Staying quiet and potentially watching him lose that success would have eaten away at her; their relationship wouldn’t have lasted, as the lie and her guilt would have got in the way and where she is right now, she sees Thomas as her chance at a future, or using the flashback analogy, he’s her Paris trip. Harvey is still too much of a risk. They had that moment at the elevator last week, but then he’s joking about sports? I found her reference to the clock striking midnight also fascinating as, to some extent, I think she sees this relationship as her chance at a form of fairytale, of having a future with someone.

For me, it wasn’t about playing games with Harvey, or trying to push him in to opening up. I saw it as, for once, the mighty Donna Paulsen didn’t think three steps ahead. She acted on impulse and didn’t think about the possible consequences. Thomas could lose his company’s future and she could lose him; all Harvey was losing was a client. He’d survive that and she wouldn’t have to lie and risk her relationship. In that moment, I don’t think she thought about the danger it could put him in, or how important her faith in him is to Harvey and her sorrowful declaration that she does have faith in him proved that to me. The conversation with her mother was also interesting. It seemed to suggest that she’d choose to have faith in Harvey, yet at the eleventh hour she chose the her version of the Paris trip. She chose Thomas. And yet, as soon as Harvey confessed how hurt he was, you could see her mother’s words about why she’d supported her father rushing in to her mind. She knew she’d screwed up, even before Hardman came slithering in to the office.

In defence of Harvey Specter: 

I admit, Harvey frustrates the hell out of me a lot of the time and yet I still root for him. He’s always been the heart of Suits for me and I have always wanted him to find happiness in the end. He’s done plenty of stupid things recently when it comes to Donna – the petulant interview in 7.11, the trying to find her another job in 7.13 and his arrogant declaration of putting her in her job earlier this season being the latest ones, but ultimately we know he loves her (well, I think we do), so it’s easier for us to let them go. Donna doesn’t have that information though, not yet anyway and this week saw Harvey making some more stupid mistakes concerning our favourite redhead. He should not have told Donna the truth about Thomas’s deal, no matter how much she pressured him and I feel for him that the idea of her breaking their trust is so alien to him, I imagine he never thought she’d do what she did. Yet, he shouldn’t have told her. It was a breach of ethics, unprofessional and dumb.

BUT – his decision to tell her was perfectly realistic. She’s his weakness and he tells her everything, even when he shouldn’t. He also did do everything he could to try and fix it and knowing his history, the chances were he’d have been successful and he did all of that, not for Thomas, but for Donna, because of his feelings for her. If only he’d actually tell her those feelings instead, we’d be in a very different position! He also has every right to be angry at Donna and his reaction at the end was perfectly understandable and very human. He was hurt, with the personal and professional elements of their relationship so tangled together that I don’t think either of them has been able to separate them for years, which is all part of their problem. And what’s all the more heartbreaking about all of this, is that at the time he needs to be at the top of his game, for the fight of his life, he’ll be at his weakest, full of doubt and pain. Poor Harvey. Hang in there, buddy.

And so……….looking ahead, to perhaps one of the most exciting (and terrifying) episodes when it comes to potential…….

Next week is all about Harvey! 

Hell, the episode is even called “Harvey”! The promo gives little away. All we know is that Daniel Hardman is determined to bring him down. He wants him out of the firm for good and it seems that he is putting Harvey on the stand in some form of hearing. Is it an ethics hearing? A deposition? A trial? We’ll see next week, but it looks as though, just as Donna was in the hot seat in 7.10’s “Donna”, it’ll be Mr Specter taking up that same seat in 8.16’s “Harvey” – this show loves parallels after all right! Plus we know his old mentor Cameron Dennis is back too. Is he going to try and stick the knife in as well??

Possible theories for what could happen when it comes to Darvey? Well, we have a shortened ten episode season 9 left. I still believe Darvey are endgame, but the question for them is, will they cross that line now, or in the series finale? What’s exciting (and terrifying) about 8.16 is that it could take this in either direction. Plus we also know that the creator changed the way this finale would go quite late on. Was it from one direction to the other??

The predicament Harvey is now in could bring them together, through emotional apologies, admitting of mistakes and acknowledgment of feelings. Will Donna beg Thomas to lie and breach his moral code to save Harvey (Hardman has no proof after all)? That would likely spell the end of their romance, as he’d hate her putting him in that position and also likely see her love for someone else. We know Harvey ends up at some point at her apartment. Could it be time for the emotional floodgates to open? Maybe. Or maybe Donna’s choice will push them apart, with him unable to forgive the hurt she’s caused, at least not until nearer the end of season 9? Either route is possible right now and this time next week we’ll know……I admit, I’m a little terrified!

See you all her next week to unpack the finale!

Suits continues next week with the season 8 finale, 8.16 “Harvey” on Wednesday night on USA Network in the USA and on Thursday in the UK via Netflix. Watch the promo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXRdEITNzZA

Television Review – A jam-packed episode of solid storylines for all, with added Darvey gold, in Suits 8.14 “Peas In a Pod”

It’s Valentine’s Day and tonight I had a date with the Suits gang (what more do you need? Well, besides wine!) and I have to say, what a fantastic night it’s been, as season 8B continues to pick up steam, as the strong episodes keep on coming! One of the signs of a great episode of television for me is when it feels longer than the run time and 8.14 certainly packed so much in to its 45 minutes, that it felt much longer!

This week was called “Peas in a Pod” and as is often the case with Suits, it’s a title that described more than one dynamic on the screen, not to mention plenty of other strong storylines included too. There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get straight to it!

Louis Litt rescues Dr Lipschitz for a change!

For years before we ever met him in person, Dr Stan Lipschitz had been saving Louis Litt, helping him navigate the stresses of life, all of which has helped make him the calmer, happier man he is now and it’s because of this, that watching Louis do everything he could to help his friend, while also managing to respect his wishes, was pretty damn satisfying. Sure, for a moment I was excited at the thought that Donna was going to help by going to see him (which, let’s face it, would have been spectacular), but that aside, this was a strong storyline, which in other episodes would have been the highlight. Ray Proscia always plays our favourite therapist (well, it’s hardly a tough choice, is it…!) with such compassion and class and his bond on screen with Rick Hoffman only gets better  with every scene. Hurry back Stan! I think Harvey might need to talk!

Alex Williams gets a satisfying storyline at last! 

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Finally! I’m a big fan of Dule Hill and I have always liked Alex Williams, but I’ve just never really been that invested in his stories and then there was the tedious fight over named partner. So, the fact that this episode gave us so much great content AND a decent storyline for Alex was an unexpected, but very welcome bonus. We were able to see just how decent a person he is. Yes, he’s become embroiled in shady deals for dodgy people in the past, but it’s never been by design and this week saw him trying to do right by his client, while also helping show compassion and understanding to a grieving husband. Plus, we were also treated to more Alex / Gretchen interaction and after her mistake not too long ago, it was lovely to see the two of them back on good terms. She supported him through a difficult case and in return he’s setting her up with his father-in-law! Now, that’s truly fabulous!

Katrina was kicking ass (and no Brian in sight, thank god)!

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Although, overall, I’ve loved 8B so far, the path they’ve taken Katrina down recently has not been enjoyable for me. Ironically, the week where she’s having to help Samantha, who has called in her favour and which could have been fraught with drama, proves to be the most enjoyable, as we were able to see Katrina not only demonstrating she’s a great lawyer, but that she’s grown in confidence and strength, now able to hold her own with Samantha, while being treated like a professional equal by Harvey, who trusted her judgement when he needed to understand the intricacies of Samantha’s fight with Scottie. Bravo, Katrina! Leave Brian in the bullpen. You don’t need him! Seriously….you really don’t need him…..

Samantha vs. Scottie was pretty great television!

Alright, before I talk about all the positives, I have to start with the negative, because it was so damn distracting. Corsets? White corsets? What is it with these two women and white corsets? They even included the scene with Scottie wearing a near identical (and ridiculous) outfit in the “previously on Suits” bit. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. No more crazy fashion statements please, Suits!

Anyway, back to the important things – pitting Scottie against Samantha was certainly fun to watch and I fully admit that I was Team Samantha all the way. I don’t dislike Scottie (and Abigail Spencer is fantastic), but she’s always annoyed me over the years, mainly because she was predominantly written to be running after Harvey and never seemed satisfied that he was trying hard enough. So, seeing her back and it not being for a repeat of her and Harvey’s previous tussles was fun. As Harvey said himself to Donna about his previous dynamic with Scottie – things change. Yes, yes they do, don’t they Mr Specter…..(I’m getting to it, I promise).

Instead, we were able to see two successful, driven, intelligent women go head to head. Peas in a pod? Not quite and was there any doubt that Samantha would win? Not in my opinion, but that didn’t make this any less fun to watch.

It was also a clever way of showing just how much Harvey has changed over the years. In the past he’d have waded in, possibly made it worse and still ended up pissing everyone off. Instead, 8.14 had him trying to be the peacemaker. He cares for Scottie and he admires Samantha and those two emotions motivated him to help resolve this without fireworks…..well, after Donna gave him some more hard truths and motivated him to take action, that is.

I do have one question though – was Samantha a Marine? I’m guessing that wasn’t a literal statement about messing with the wrong Marine, but then again, we learnt in 8.10 that she’s served her country in the past…….Ms Wheeler’s backstory continues to intrigue me!

……..and then of course, there was THE BIG ONE…….

The Darvey emotional pot is starting to boil over!

Well, well, well, this week was certainly interesting from a Darvey perspective! So much was thrown at the audience in just a few scenes. There was subtext as usual, but the key difference this week was that Harvey and Donna’s feelings for each other were not only implied in certain scenes, but also directly addressed in others, all of which culminated in that gloriously angsty elevator moment.

I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s go back to the beginning – right from the “Previously on Suits” we were on notice that Darvey was on the episode’s radar. I mean, that 7.15 Scottie scene was so loaded, it had to come back around, right?! Yet, what I loved most about the Donna / Harvey element of this week’s episode, was that even though I was expecting something, what was delivered was so much more interesting.

I was convinced Scottie coming back was going to be significant from a Darvey perspective and knowing she paid Donna a visit at home had me anticipating a talk in that scene. Yet, while that was just a repeat of their previous interactions (when they talk about Donna’s feelings without actually taking about them), the scenes her presence triggered were so damn good. First, there was Harvey’s “Things change.” Sure, he was talking about his and Scottie’s work dynamic, but his feelings towards her have changed too, which made this comment fun to hear.

Then we had the scene in Harvey’s office, with so much unresolved sexual tension, I could barely concentrate on the dialogue! What were you going to say Harvey? That Donna was always jealous of Scottie? Why would that be? The fact he almost voiced that and the fact she practically dared him to was the content I’ve been waiting for! So much angst in so few seconds. She wanted you to say it Harvey! She needs you to take a risk for her and her frustration at his cowardice was great. I’ve thought Donna was still pissed off with him on some level and seeing that reach the surface for a change was exciting. Plus, surely this moment shows that they’re both aware of their feelings on some level. It’s funny that Donna described Scottie and Harvey as peas in a pod, when it’s really them who are like twins now, both letting fear hold them back now?

Then there was THAT phonemail, which was spectacular! Bravo Scottie for picking up where Mike Ross left off! Their love (yes, that’s right, love) for Harvey has always been what these two women had in common (is that another example of peas in a pod?!) and it was fun to see them have such an honest conversation. We all hope Harvey sees what EVERYONE else sees too. And Donna’s face! Gold. That’s right Donna, everyone knows – literally everyone – well, maybe not your boyfriend, not yet anyway…….

Yet, just when I didn’t think the Darvey content could get any better, we had that final elevator scene. I was ready for seeing Harvey caught off balance by the appearance of Thomas Kessler; of seeing him hurt and confused by his reaction to Donna being with a great guy. Yet, the scene wasn’t about that at all – it was almost THE moment. He almost…..almost……opened up and all thanks to Scottie! Am I frustrated that we didn’t see her call to Harvey, especially when we’d seen the still photo of him on the phone, suggesting maybe…maybe, it was filmed? Damn right I am, but I’m hoping that by keeping this scene from us, they’re saving the moment we get to see Harvey’s feelings for Donna on full display, for a scene in which he voices them to her. Well, that and I hold on to hope of a DVD deleted scene!

Fair play to Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty, whose on-screen chemistry has always been one of the finest aspects of this series. They played this moment so well; so subtle and full of glorious angsty subtext. Harvey’s slightly nervous voice, him shifting on his feet and fidgeting, dipping his head, so clearly awkward and nervous by what he was about to raise. Then there was Donna’s curiosity, turning in to hopeful anticipation. You could feel her hopes rising, thinking that maybe he was actually about to take an emotional step towards her. Damn you Thomas! I think you’re great, but that was the worst timing ever. Donna’s lingering look towards Harvey, as she stood as far from Thomas in that elevator as possible and Harvey’s look of confused pain were the episode highlights for me.

The only minor grumble – the moment Louis asked Donna if she’d told Harvey about Thomas. I know it was mirroring him asking Harvey the same question when he was with Paula (which really made no narrative sense) and it’s true Louis is in the know about her kissing Harvey, but it still felt unnecessary to me.

Has the time come? Are we finally about to step over the Darvey finish line? Dear god, I hope so. I cannot take another 7.16 Darvey Dodge!

…….which leads us to next week……

Looking ahead – that promo is Litt Up!

There are only two episodes left in season eight and there are still some big questions left. The obvious one following the promo for 8.15 “Stalking Horse” is what choice does Donna make? She clearly chooses Thomas, or his interests/her relationship over Harvey (oh, sorry, I meant the firm…..honest). That promo is so reminiscent of 4.15’s “Intent” that I’m already far too excited. We also know Daniel Hardman returns to play some more games before the season ends, so I’m assuming he’s back next week, setting up for whatever finale fireworks they have in store. Can I just have the episodes now? Please?!

Ahh well, only a week to wait. See you then!

Suits continues next week with 8.15 “Stalking Horse” on Wednesday night on USA Network in the US and on Thursday via Netflix in the UK. You can see the promo here: https://youtu.be/qu3O2_8IYtU

(Photos via: Suits USA)

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

See you next week, same day, same place!

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

(Photos from: Suits USA/USA Network)

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Donna takes a risk on love and I am thrilled! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All hail Queen Gretchen! 

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

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

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

Gambling with Katrina’s character is NOT good entertainment

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

I really really don’t like this storyline.

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

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

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

See you next week!

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

(Photos: USA Network/Suits USA)