Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Suits 4x05 "Pound of Flesh" (Or How About A Truce?)

"Pound of Flesh"
Original Airdate: July 16, 2014

When I was in elementary school, I clearly remember two of my friends getting into a huge argument with each other. Our friend group was split on the playground during that week at recess – you were either with Laura, or you were against her. I tried to be in the middle, to be neutral, to not be forced to choose a side. Neither side of the fight really liked that. The truth is that until there is a truce or the fight manages to fizzle out organically, fights don’t usually end themselves over time. They usually do just the opposite and intensify. And no matter how much you will it to end or push it away, there will always be a layer of bitterness and resentment until (and sometimes long after) the dust settles. Suits’ most recent episode titled “Pound of Flesh” doesn’t get to the truce until more than halfway through the episode. The first part of this season has focused pretty heavily on the dissolution of the Harvey/Mike relationship. They’ve done more than fight, if we’re being honest. They’ve crossed personal and professional lines with each other and it has been messy and brutal at times. But the episode comes to a head when Harvey and Mike realize that little sliver of the Venn diagram where their personal and professional interests overlap (Rachel) and decide to call a momentary ceasefire in their war. The problem, of course, is that while Harvey is a soldier, he isn’t the general.

Elsewhere in the episode, everyone else spends the majority of their time figuring out how to stab each other in the back, Rachel spends a chunk of the episode unconscious, and Louis and Donna perform some Shakespeare. And that’s what you missed on Suits!


Without recapping the entirety of the plot, let me try to explain what is happening in the worlds of Harvey Specter and Mike Ross. The buyout is still in the process of occurring, though we get to spend most of this episode Logan-less so I’m okay with that. Pearson Specter and Mike are both competing to acquire stock. Mike, you see, hasn’t accepted the money he was offered from his new sketchy-sketch business partner Forseman (remember that if he does, he’ll cut his boss out of all of that money, too), and the Pearson Specter firm needs to figure out a way to legally acquire the stock. This leads to some friction between Jeff who desires to try to play more by the book, considering the firm is still swimming around the water with the SEC sharks, and Harvey. Harvey’s desire is to get the job done, whatever it takes which – of course – is the reason why he’s in those shark-infested waters with Cahill in the first place.

Harvey and Mike eventually both think along the same vein and end up finding themselves in a bidding war for the shares of stock. This is where the tension begins to bubble and boil between Harvey and Mike again. Both are extremely stubborn, egotistical, and unwilling to waver or lose. They’ve spent the vast majority of this season allowing their anger and bitterness form a wedge between them that has only grown more calloused as time drags on. Remember when Harvey and Mike used to trade movie references and discuss sports together? Remember when they used to TRUST each other? The problem isn’t that Harvey and Mike are on opposing sides of this takeover. The problem isn’t even that Mike left the law firm. The problem is that both men pretended that they would be fine without the other. The truth is that together, Harvey and Mike made sense: Mike was unafraid to challenge his mentor and Harvey taught Mike to think outside of the box and stretch himself to his limits. Apart, these two men function, clearly. The problem is that when you separate these two and light a fire, both run toward the flame rather than away from it – they don’t back down from conflict and find ways to burn the opposing side before they, themselves, are burnt.

Harvey and Mike have a complex relationship these days and an argument in the only place arguments seem to occur on Suits (the bathroom) before essentially declaring war on each other again. And this time, it’s a bidding war on Gillis’ shares of stock. A wrench gets thrown into their planned meeting, however, as Rachel collapses at her university and is rushed to the hospital (more on her in a moment). Upon frantic arrival, Mike notices Harvey who advises him to calm down and go with him to dinner while a sedated Rachel sleeps. Mike agrees, possibly because he sees what we all saw for the first time this season: a glimmer of the pre-takeover Harvey Specter. Remember that Harvey genuinely cares about Mike Ross. He truly, honestly, and deeply does. This becomes evident when the two slip into their old rapport over a steak dinner, laughing at Louis’ Merchant of Venice costume. Very quickly, Mike seems to remember – and regretfully, which is good – that he and Harvey cannot joke and jest like they used to do when they were on the same side of the battlefield; like they did when they could trust one another. Not after the damage they both have caused to each other (and Louis).

It’s painfully obvious that Harvey and Mike’s relationship has had a wrecking ball taken to it. Harvey has done some pretty terrible things to Mike, but Mike has done some equally horrible things to Harvey and his former firm during this takeover war. What is important to note, however, is how Harvey and Mike end their dinner: understanding. Both men admit that while what they did to one another was cruel, it was also their only choice. And I think that this is important for Mike especially, because as we will see soon, he is not as trusting as he used to be. Whether or not it was the only choice for Harvey to make and whether or not Mike tells Harvey that the choice was understandable… well, it’s not important to Mike. While he may vocalize his acceptance of the decision, it’s clear that Mike doesn’t trust Harvey still; he wants to believe his former mentor but he just cannot.

And so, when the two end their meal on a high note, Cahill approaches and accuses the pair of being in cahoots with one another right before he drops a bombshell: the Gillis shares were purchased by a third company. As Cahill walks away, Harvey insists that he had nothing to do with the firm purchasing the shares and that Jessica must have done it without his consent. There is true and genuine remorse evident on Harvey’s face and complete and utter bewilderment and anger on Mike’s. Harvey, we know, was true to his word but Mike now has yet another reason not to trust Harvey. Harvey’s upset over the purchase of the shares culminates in his conversation with Jessica regarding the matter. He may have decided to promise Mike that they would postpone the deal, but the duty is to the client, Jessica essentially says. And in the end, the client will always trump the friendship and the promise.

I’ve had some issues with Harvey over the years. He can often be calloused and cruel, focused more on winning and self-preservation than contemplating how his actions are destructive to himself and the lives of the people around him. But there’s a moment in “Pound of Flesh” that really struck me: Harvey meets with Mike regarding the shares and admits that though he has very few of them, one of his regrets is refusing to set aside his pride and his ego and to listen to Mike’s initial proposal regarding the takeover. If he had – if he had just taken a few minutes to be less selfish and less calloused (Harvey was still really hurting from Mike’s decision to leave, remember, and was pushing him away because of that) – then perhaps all of the distrust and the pain and the broken relationship between mentor and student and between friends could have been avoided. It was a beautifully honest and vulnerable moment for Harvey in which he accepted that it was his fault and he truly regrets how it changed both of them and altered their relationship. Unfortunately, only time will tell if it can ever be truly restored.


Rachel was the definition of overworked this week. Apart from her job and law school, the young woman is now juggling the complex relationship between herself, Logan, and Mike. She’s trying to navigate the waters and is doing a terrible job of it, sinking into her subconscious to extract memories of both men. Rachel knows she’s stretching herself thin and asks for a day off from Harvey at the worst possible moment. He snaps at her, refusing to give her any special treatment or consideration, so she drives herself to the point of passing out. At the hospital, she manages to slip into a drug-induced much-needed rest, while her mind still tries to process the near-kiss that happened with Logan and the truth of her relationship with Mike. At the culmination of the dream, Logan proposes to Rachel but she refuses, explaining that he is a fraud. At this point, the face changes from Logan’s to Mike’s and Rachel awakes with horror.

I’m not entirely sure where this Logan/Rachel/Mike triangle is headed but I do know that there is a lot of substance to work with, though I’d prefer it to not be a triangle (I’m opposed to love triangles on principle). Rachel clearly has some sort of unresolved emotional attachment to Logan who – as we know – was cheating on his wife with her. She calls him a “fraud” in the dream, but… Rachel realizes that Mike is too. True, he may not be masquerading as a lawyer anymore, but he was. And that secret part of him is just that: secret. So if Rachel wants to be with Mike, a fraud, what is stopping the logical part of her brain from making the connection that she could also be with Logan, though he too is a fraud? The point, of course, is that Rachel’s brain DOES make that connection when she’s allowed herself to finally stop overstuffing it with work and school. I’ve often heard that it is in our dreams where we are the most honest and uninhibited because we bring no baggage, no worries, no stress like we do within our day-to-day lives. Our brain is, for all intents and purposes, shut off to those things. It is free to wander and to think about the things we suppress.

So what does this episode mean for Rachel, moving forward? It means that she has some decisions to make, like whether or not she wants to be honest with Mike about the almost-kiss or keep it secret. And it begs the question as to whether or not she will allow herself to work with Logan again (spoiler alert: it looks like the idea she gave him last week worked, so she probably will) without complicating her emotions.


In what may be my favorite Donna-related storyline to date, our favorite red-haired queen of Pearson Specter is desperately trying to prepare for her opening night of Merchant of Venice in which she has – as Louis puts it – a meaty role in the character of Portia. Donna, in “Pound of Flesh” is the most anxious we have ever seen her. The normally composed, sassy, and witty woman is jittery and nervous, attempting to cram lines before the show opens… that night. It’s Louis to the rescue, though, as he helps Donna gain her confidence and memorize her lines for that evening. There’s only one additional problem: Donna is terrified to be on stage. She’s afraid of failure and afraid that she will become a laughingstock. The reason why she’s afraid is pretty telling: when she was younger, all she wanted to do was become an actress. Her family fell on hard times, though, and that dream seemed to all but evaporate from her reach. And now, she’s an assistant working at a law firm where she will never truly fit in. And while Donna continues to talk down to herself, Louis stops her, forcing her to listen to every single word he says. And when he speaks, he begins to tell her how beautiful, talented, and perfect she is. He believes in her and she is more than capable.

(Let me just pause to say that the most beautiful thing in the whole world is how much Louis and Donna’s friendship has blossomed. She’s gone from being annoyed by him to picking on him to genuinely considering him a close friend and confidante.)

With Louis’ encouragement, Donna shines on opening night and then approaches Louis with a problem: one of the actors was injured and they need someone to fill in. Since he is a Shakespeare savant, Donna recommends that he fill in for the actor. Louis vehemently protests this which seems out of character for someone who loves the spotlight and theatrics, but then the man explains why: he has stage-fright and has had it since he was a child and underwent a traumatic experience at the theatre. Donna then, in a brilliant role reversal, gives HIM a pep talk of encouragement and does so that night, too, when Louis begins to feel the effects of fright. As it turns out, Louis is heralded as rather brilliant and when Donna praises him, Louis admits that he’s retiring from the theatre. He was reminded, on stage, that the courtroom is truly where he belongs and he would never want to give that up. That is HIS dream and he is grateful to Donna for allowing him to share her dream for a night with him.

Cheekily, Donna doesn’t-quite-admit that the actor Louis filled in for didn’t really have an injury and that she utilized the performance as an opportunity to help Louis take his mind off of Jeff Malone and Harvey’s anger at him and all of the drama surrounding the firm. She knew what he needed and actually, so did he. These two characters understand one another so beautifully these days that it makes me wish all characters on every television show could be like them.

And now, bonus points:
  • The episode ends with a really sweet Harvey/Donna scene that had me grinning like an idiot (he bought her flowers for her dressing room and picked her up to go sit through two hours of Shakespeare which he probably finds intensely dull but HE IS A DONNA FAN). So all in all, this was a good episode.
  • MVP this week goes to Gabriel Macht because of the moment Harvey admits his regret. Awesome work, truly.
  • “I don’t have time for you to be creepy.”
  • “My middle name is Roberta.” “… I’m so sorry for that.”
  • “I’m not a lawyer, Louis. This is my chance to shine.”
  • “Mike, you used to trust me. I need you to trust me right now.”
  • “Hey, remember when you said you’re not a lawyer? You could be.”
  • “The only thing I’ve got going on is you.”
Thanks so much for reading, y’all! See you next week.  :)


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