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!

…………….

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)

 

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Television Review – Suits 7.02 “The Statue”

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Well, after last week’s episode seemed to drive most of this show’s previous narrative path off a cliff, I confess I wasn’t particularly looking forward to seeing what they had in store in episode two. I was therefore relieved that, for the most part, the storyline of The Statue made sense, especially in the new landscape in which we find ourselves in season seven. Yes, there are still things I don’t like (more on that shortly), but it was a hell of a lot better than the premiere (feel free to read my thoughts on that here).

Harvey Specter – A child beginning to grow up?

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As those who read last week’s review know, I couldn’t stand Harvey last week. His character literally changed overnight, which did a disservice to him and all of his previous character development. This week, saw a mini journey for him over the course of just one episode. At the beginning, he makes so many mistakes I was shaking my head in despair – throwing his new-found power at Louis, throwing out offers of named partner to whoever he pleased, shouting down Donna’s concerns and insulting Jessica to her face. Someone get him to a therapist…….oh wait…… (I’m getting to that don’t worry).

As my main complaint last week was poor narrative structure and plotting, it was a relief that this new, not improved version of what was my favourite Suits character, actually experienced some growth over the hour. He messed up, a lot, but he learnt from those errors in judgment and is slowing beginning to put things right and most of the final decisions he made, including with regards to both Alex’s and Donna’s positions at the firm, were the correct ones. I can only hope that season seven continues to have a plan for him, which is consistent and believable (and sorts his personal life out once and for all).

All hail Jessica, the voice of reason & sanity!

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Raise your hand if you miss Jessica Pearson! This week saw the welcome guest appearance of the superb Gina Torres, with both present day and flashback Jessica playing a part in the narrative (yes, an actual narrative this week). In a week where we watched Harvey stuff up, the voice of reason yet again was Jessica. Harvey has always listened to her and she finally made him see sense and start to act like a man capable of being in charge of PSL.

Gabriel Macht and Torres always had wonderful chemistry on screen and that continued here. We still know very little about the origins of their friendship, but its depth and meaning to both characters is always clear, strong and an asset to the show overall. I assume we won’t see her again until the 100th (she must be in it, surely?!), but they should try and bring her back as much as possible in my opinion!

We all got Litt up!

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Thank god! After his stumble last week, Louis Litt was back on fine, fun form and I for one was thrilled to see it. From a professional, PSL perspective, he was yet again absolutely right, highlighting why I still think that in the end he should be in charge of running the firm. He may be emotional, but he sees the bigger PSL picture. It took Jessica to make Harvey see sense on brining over Alex Williams, but she didn’t say anything that Louis hadn’t already expressed. I only hope the truce and understanding that seemed to exist between Harvey and Louis at the end of this week remains. They work better together than when at each other’s throats!

It was also lovely to have some of Louis’s wit back. Most of the times I laugh out loud when watching Suits is thanks to the superb Rick Hoffman and this week was the same. Stuffing a cat?! I’ve missed this version of him and Gretchen is the perfect sidekick for him now that Donna is moving in to a different place in the firm. Now all we need is for Louis to find some happiness. Oh, and more of his therapist please. I can see that dynamic getting quite fun!

Donna Paulsen – COO (much better than Senior Partner)

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I’ve seen criticism about the lack of realism in a secretary becoming a senior partner. I would agree with this, although in a show with a premise like Suits (and which never delves in to any realistic legal detail – go watch The Good Wife for that), moaning about Donna’s storyline not being realistic is hardly logical. Have those people been paying attention to Mike all these years?!

By the end of this week Donna has a position that makes more logical sense and respects the show’s narrative (it’s that word again). As COO she can act as a director of personnel and handle the administrative elements of management that Harvey will clearly have no time for (and would most likely be terrible at). I hope this allows her to build a role and a level of success and respect that she deserves. I also hope she finally finds some independence from Harvey and maybe even some happiness too.

Putting the ghosts of the past behind Mike

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Mike is really stepping up this year, which is wonderful after the petulant, demanding version of him we saw in season six when he was in prison. Seeing him get out on his own and be successful, was lovely to watch and Harvey was right that he needed to confront his ghosts and take control of his narrative going forward (see, creative team -narrative is important)!

If this is anything to go by, Mike is shaping up to be a formidable opponent, which I imagine will make things even more interesting when he inevitably has to go up against Harvey (that corporate / pro bono conflict must be around the next corner surely?). There wasn’t much of Rachel this week, but hers and Mike’s mature and genuine relationship is a joy and only highlights the craziness of the show’s new “relationship”.

You knew I’d have to get to the show’s weakest link eventually……..!

Love is not in the air Harvey. Wake the hell up Paula Agard!

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I’ve previously asserted my stance as a believer that Harvey and Donna belong together. In the words of Donna, this series is not my first rodeo and I’ve watched enough “will they / won’t they / should they” on screen to know when the answer is clearly yes. I still think that is the case here, although whether the writers of this show will ever have the courage to follow their own narrative is another question.

As for Harvey’s new relationship with his former therapist (I still cannot believe it, to be honest), it just stands out from the rest of the show as being crazy and illogical, unless it is being used to continue the long game of having Harvey Specter finally admit where his feelings truly lie. Last week, I could not understand why it was included. Not because I was inconsolable that Darvey wasn’t a reality in the first five minutes, but because this romance made no sense, having had no build-up or signposting in the entire previous season.

I’m going to put my lack of faith in the creator of this show on hold momentarily and hope that the very fact this relationship has come out of nowhere and seems nuts, is actually the point. The whole first scene was so saccharine and the polar opposite of the very real connection between Mike and Rachel. That has to be deliberate….surely? Yes Harvey, she knows you better than anyone in some respects – that’s because she was your THERAPIST! I’ve seen lots of chatter this week about transference and in my book, that is the only thing that makes sense for this storyline. He needs an emotional anchor and he does not feel that that can be Donna (in my opinion, because he is still too afraid to face how he really feels about her). The scene in which Donna accurately predicted that he would seek out Agard was gold! He looked terrified!

That leaves me to say one more thing on this topic – WAKE UP PAULA! I still think it’s a disgrace that the writers have reduced what was a strong, intelligent, professional woman, who took part in one of the show’s most compelling plots, to a bedfellow for Harvey. She deserved better and I hope she sees sooner rather than later, that Harvey (whether he realises it or not) is using her as an emotional crutch and an escape from someone else. Non-Darvey people can mock me all they want, but I’m simply following the narrative that has been set out over six seasons (and especially since season four). Time will tell, I suppose.

And finally – welcome Dule Hill!

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As a worshipper at the altar of The West Wing, it’s fantastic to have Dule Hill join the cast. We didn’t see much of Alex Williams this week, but the markers were set that his past with Harvey is perhaps about more than friendship. What does Harvey owe him for and how will he try and collect? I’m certainly looking forward to finding out, as well as watching him interact with Louis (I assume the flowers come next week)!

So, overall, 7.02 was a much better viewing experience than the premiere. There was structure, a narrative that made sense and it gave me a sense that perhaps Korsh and co do actually have a plan. I certainly hope so. I dearly love Suits and have all my fingers crossed that they don’t let themselves, or the fans, down.

Suits continues weekly on Wednesdays 9/8c on the USA Network in the USA and on Thursdays on Netflix in the UK (thanks again for that Netflix)!