Sunday, February 15, 2015

Suitx 4x13 "Fork in the Road" (Are You Goin' My Way?)

"Fork in the Road"
Original Airdate: February 11, 2015

I actually don't hate road trips. My brother moved to North Carolina recently, which is about a seven hour drive from where I am in central Florida. My parents and sister drove him up and my mom and sister despised the drive there. They much prefer flying to driving. I think a road trip -- a really great one -- is all about the company you keep. I piled into a minivan with seven other people a few years ago and drove to Atlanta. Along the way, we talked and got to know one another and by the time we arrived in Georgia, we already had inside jokes about our friend Lizzy's GPS.

Road trips are only uncomfortable and awkward if you are with company that makes them that way. Speaking of, that is exactly what happens in "Fork in the Road," an episode that features a forced road trip between the already tense Mike and Louis. And did I mention that Harvey Specter is the one who forced them both into the road trip in the first place? His reasoning for doing so was noble: the only way for Pearson Specter Litt to get back to normal is for Mike and Louis to settle their differences once and for all. Harvey ropes them both into a road trip under the guise (which is actually true) of driving to visit a client. This episode is also Suits' annual flashback episode, so while we witness the animosity between Louis and Mike in the present, we also have the opportunity to watch the dissolution of Harvey and Louis's relationship in the flashback.

Let's talk more about the dynamic between these three men, shall we?


It's rare for an episode of Suits to be so focused on just the men, but "Fork in the Road" was and I'm so grateful for it. It's the most combustible episode thus far because it features the fracturing of Harvey and Louis's relationship in the flashbacks and depicts the current demolished relationship between Mike and Louis (with Harvey caught in the middle) in the present as the three men take a road trip to meet with a client. Moreover, the flashback parts of this episode also allow us the opportunity to learn a little bit more of Mike's past, especially his relationship with Claire (guest star Troian Bellisario).

Louis and Mike have never seen eye-to-eye. Harvey has always really been the obstacle between them, if we're being honest (apart from Louis's personality itself). Mike has always been Harvey's go-to guy: he's his protege, in a lot of ways, and I think that Louis has always resented that because it's just one more example of how Harvey seems to get everything that he wants while Louis struggles to connect with others. In the flashbacks during "Fork in the Road," we see how Harvey and Louis's competitive natures ended up costing them their friendship. When Louis goes behind Harvey's back in order to secure a partnership in the firm courtesy of Hardman, Harvey is baffled and angry because Louis insists that he can find a way to still make partner and yet get Harvey what he wants, too.

That sets Harvey over the edge and he snaps at Louis, telling him that he doesn't want to be a part of the team and he doesn't want to help other people -- he wants to be able to get what he wants and still be friends with the people he betrays in order to get there. And that's really what has characterized Louis a lot in life, right? He's desperate to get what he wants and in the process will side with whomever is willing to give him that. That's what ultimately destroys the relationships in Louis's life if you think about it. He loses the people he's closest to because he doesn't want to be a part of the team -- he's constantly seeking after his own interests. Donna told him essentially this very thing in last week's episode and in this week's flashback, we hear Harvey tell Louis that he's basically a rat who flip-flops depending on the highest bidder.

With that in mind, we see how Mike's seeming betrayal of Louis and his trust has impacted their relationship. And not just their relationship, really, but Louis as a person. He's become angry. He's become bitter. And the problem in "Fork in the Road" is that Louis has chosen to forgive Harvey and Donna and Rachel and Jessica, but not Mike. This decision (or indecision, really) has to be resolved and it's what Harvey seeks to do doing the road trip. So Louis and Mike have a choice to make in this episode and based on the decisions that they made in the flashbacks. The whole point of integrating Mike and Louis's history into this episode was to illuminate Louis's flaws as a person and remind him that it's never too late to change. He chose to think of himself over doing the right thing years ago; he made a deal with Hardman and thought that he could have it all -- play for both sides -- but Harvey angrily reminded him that he could not. In "Fork in the Road," Louis can choose to forgive Mike or not, but whichever he chooses will change him, fundamentally, as a person from that point forward. So the question Louis struggles with throughout the episode is what kind of person he will be if he chooses to allow anger and bitterness over Mike's lies to tinge him forever.

Mike's flashbacks involve a young woman named Claire, with whom Mike begins a relationship. But Mike is still tangled in a web of lies at this point in his life and so when he realizes that Claire wants to be with someone who is serious and has goals for their life that they're striving to achieve. So Mike lies and tells Claire that he's in law school, when he's most definitely not. The lie blows up in his face toward the end of the episode and it's an important section of Mike's life to see because it paves the way for the lies and secrets that will surround him up until the present-day in that car on a road trip. Mike isn't a horrible person, really, and the flashbacks are clear indicators that he really did care about Claire and about helping he work a case. What these scenes revealed, however, was that Mike could either allow his mistakes to drive him further from other people or toward them. There's only one way that he will be able to do that, though: apologize.

At a gas station, Harvey leaves Mike and Louis outside and the pair end up having a literal fight in which Louis blames Mike for ruining his life and Mike tries to fight back. Harvey breaks up the fight and it leaves Mike shaken and upset and drives Louis to actual tears. The two men had been attacking one another, verbally, in the car and much like a pressurized can of soda, the tension exploded. What's so horrifying to both men is that they allowed their anger to reach that point. And I think that they realize in that moment that they have to make their choice in order to move forward and become better people. They have to choose to forgive each other.

The decisions that we make in life have consequences and if "Fork in the Road" taught Louis and Mike anything, it's that these decisions can alter the trajectory of your life and your subsequent decisions forever. Mike's decision to lie to Claire years ago instead of telling her the truth about who he was altered him -- it turned him into the person who, in the present, was at odds with Louis BECAUSE of a lie. And Louis? Well, Louis was angry and bitter and full of rage in the present because of the decisions that he made in the past to choose putting himself over loyalty to a friend. And Harvey and Louis's relationship became even more fractured than it had been because of that decision. Both men are at a crosswords after their confrontation and decide to actually talk about their problems.

Louis's problem with Mike? Mike never apologized for what he did. Mike's problem with Louis? He can forgive other people but he cannot seem to forgive him for one indiscretion that was never meant to hurt Louis. Beautifully, the two men have a conversation about Mike's past -- about what drove him to become a lawyer in the first place. Louis then tells Mike something that no one has told him lately: that he may not have attended law school but he isn't a fraud. One lie spiraled into dozens more, but that doesn't negate all the good he did as a lawyer. I doubt that Mike and Louis will ever have a solid friendship or relationship with each other, but I feel like the road trip they took was necessary in order for them to truly understand one another.

And really, the whole point of "Fork in the Road" was that our decisions make us who we are: they are forks in our roads and we can choose who we become. So we better choose wisely.

And now, bonus points:
  • MVPs of this episode are too close to call -- Gabriel Macht really delivered in the flashbacks, Rick Hoffman consistently nails the emotional turmoil of Louis Litt, and Patrick J. Adams really got to shine in both the flashback and present-day versions of Mike Ross (especially any scene with his grandmother). Honestly, I loved all three men in this episode a lot. It's rare that an episode focuses primarily on the relationship between the three of them, so this was awesome.
  • Can Troian Bellasario guest star on every episode of Suits from now on? Everyone knows I absolutely adore her as Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars, but her role on this series was fantastic, especially because we got to see the on-screen chemistry between her and her real-life beau. More than that, though, Troian always manages to bring this class and sophistication and strength to everything she does as an actress and is able to switch from lighthearted banter in one scene to intensity and drama the next (it's what makes her my favorite on PLL).
  • "No, he says I'm a less attractive version of [Khaleesi's] translator."
  • I would totally read The Book of Donna. Cover to cover.
  • "I am a lot of things, but I am not a monster."
  • "You two are finally talking. I think you earned a little music."
  • I forgot what a tool Trevor really was. Seeing him reappear in the flashbacks made me grateful that we don't have to see him often in this show anymore.
  • Meanwhile, Mike's grandmother made a reappearance as an important part of this episode and I absolutely loved her.
  • "You don't wanna be a team. You just want to have it both ways."
  • "You're not a fraud, Mike. You just... never went to law school."
Did you all enjoy "Fork in the Road"? Hit up the comments below and let me know your thoughts on the episode. Until then, folks. :)


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