Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Suits 5x06 "Privilege" (Gone Rogue)


"Privilege"
Original Airdate: July 29, 2015

I'll admit something to you: sometimes I enjoy going rogue on projects or in life in general. I'm the kind of person who likes to take charge of situations, especially if I'm used to being in charge. I'm also an introvert, which means that being around people for too long or too often drains me of energy. So I understand the concept of "going rogue" -- of forging your own path that runs away from other people. But I also place a lot of emphasis and a lot of value on the idea of community. The only way you can build trust is by being surrounded by others; you can't form trust alone. You can't really grow as a person if you're not constantly challenged or constantly engaged. The best you could hope for in those instances is stagnation.

In "Privilege," we see how valuable community is, how valuable trust and communication is, and how important it is for our characters to grasp the idea that in order to build healthy relationships, you need to have healthy foundations. So let's examine where each of our Suits characters were at emotionally, mentally, and physically this week, shall we?

Harvey/Paula (+ Rachel, Jessica)

Sometimes Suits is really subtle with its parallelism. Sometimes it's not. This is episode that falls into the latter category. "Privilege" is an episode that focuses on drawing a lot of its punches from emotional baggage and relationships between other people. It's an episode that builds upon the end of last week's episode, where Harvey walked out on his therapy session because Dr. Agard brought up the unresolved issues Harvey has with his mother. Harvey Specter is the kind of person who throws punches before he can get hit. He's the dog permanently backed into a corner, ready to snap. That's just who he is and he believes that he protects himself by doing so. Because of the way that Harvey operates, he has two major issues: 1) He places a lot of emphasis in loyalty and trust and 2) He views anyone who tries to get him to open up emotionally as the enemy. Dr. Agard wasn't threatening Harvey when she asked about his mother. She wasn't overstepping her boundaries as a therapist. In fact, she was making an emotional connection with Harvey and was hoping that because she shared her vulnerabilities, he would feel safer to share his.

Instead, Harvey self-destructed in front of her because that's his default response. When people get too close, emotionally, and when he's finally let guards in his life down, he embraces them with one hand while his other hovers just above a big, red detonator. Harvey Specter hit that button when Paula asked about his mother and he hit it hard, blowing up at the therapist and storming out the door. He felt betrayed because he was asked to dig deeper into his emotions. He felt betrayed because someone he trusted didn't do things exactly the way he wanted. He felt betrayed because he felt scared, deep down, of what he might uncover if he was really honest. Harvey has done this all with Paula, just like he did it with Donna. When Donna opened up to Harvey, emotionally, he reciprocated... until he realized the weight of what had happened. Then he pressed the detonator, and instead of backing down, Donna pressed her own detonator and walked away through the wreckage.

So now, Harvey's life is still in shambles, mostly because he won't allow anyone close enough to him without self-destructing, and he's stopped seeing Dr. Agard. In "Privilege," we see a lot of heavy-handed allusions and parallels between the case Harvey is working (which involves Harvey's client seeing Dr. Agard also) and his own experience with Paula. In one of the harshest, most cold moments we've seen from Harvey Specter thus far in season five, he uses the personal story of tragedy that Dr. Agard shared in their session in a deposition. He berates her. Why? Well, because it will protect his client. But he does so -- as he explains at the end of the episode -- because he felt hurt and betrayed and his first response when that happens is to throw punches and blow other people up instead of talking about his emotions.

Inside Out -- if you all haven't seen it yet -- is a fantastic look into our emotions and the way we think. It's also a fantastic look into WHY we act the way that we do and what to do with our emotions in order to process them in a healthy way. It's a fascinating film, and it's something that is applicable to our lives. In this episode, Harvey's client -- when talking about therapy -- asks: "If you're not gonna talk about your feelings, why see a therapist at all?" (So heavy-handed there, writers, with the parallels between the stories but I'll let it slide only because Harvey grew at the end of the episode and admitted that he really does need to talk about his mother in order to resolve some of the underlying issues that have been preventing him from having healthy relationships.)

The problem with Harvey is that he doesn't talk about his emotions. He pushes them down. He buries them until he can't hold them inside any longer. And then they spill out in the forms of panic attacks or calculated barbs. What's so important about Harvey in "Privilege" is that he's able to identify, by the end of the episode, that his therapist was not the enemy; HE was his own enemy. By not allowing himself the room to feel the things he needed to and talk about them, it was literally as if he was attacking himself. I'm glad that Harvey seems to be moving in the right direction and that Dr. Agard said what she did to him. She confronted him in a real, honest way that most people are too afraid of Harvey to do.

(Also, mad props to Rachel for forcing Harvey to evaluate whether or not he was inflicting harm on himself and his client by not dealing with his anger. Also props to Jessica for realizing that Harvey isn't okay and for telling Rachel to keep her updated on how he is.)

Mike/Louis

In a storyline that surprised everyone, "Privilege" saw Louis and Mike working really well together as a team. Okay, maybe this isn't THAT surprising, since they used to work briefly as a team. It's an episode that saw them working in order to help Harvey's first client (and now the client they shared, thanks to last year's road trip episode) solidify a deal so that he could get on the whole battery-powered car movement (I didn't know that was a thing). There are quite a few snags in the way, though. And there's a giant snag who goes by the name of Jack Soloff. You see, throughout the episode, Louis is so NOT Louis Litt -- he's not acting as a lone wolf or an agent, intent on stabbing Mike in the back to look better in front of the client. (Though he does almost do that at the beginning of the episode, but Donna gently smacks some sense into him.)

No, see, Louis has learned the value of being in the firm. He's learned what it means to put aside pettiness and differences and be humble enough to let other people take the lead and credit. Mike initially is as bewildered as we are, but really begins to trust Louis throughout the episode as they work their case. They have a solid plan for their client, really and all would have gone right... except for the fact that Louis' previous actions with Jack have consequences that last much longer than an episode. Here's where the old Louis and the new Louis intersect. Here is the crossroads. Because for once, as Mike and Louis explain to Jessica, Louis is acting selflessly. He's played by the rules. He's avoided pettiness, hasn't done anything to intentionally anger Jack, and has collaborated with Mike. He's literally being a model partner and yet is still being screwed over by Jack's arrogance and brash quest for revenge.

That's what it's all about to Jack: revenge. What was it always about for Louis, y'all? Respect. Louis didn't ever want to really get even with people. He just wanted to be noticed by them. He didn't really want to watch his firm suffer. He wanted them to revere him as their equal. He never sought revenge; only respect. The problem -- like with most things in  life -- is always in the execution. Louis has done some bad things in the name of "respect." He's done things he's still paying for in this episode, even if he doesn't deserve to still be paying for them. With Jack, though, there is no conscience like there is with Louis. Louis, at least, has the decency and humanity to feel guilty when he does something out of line. He knows when he's gone too far.

Jack laughs at that line as he steps over it (and kicks a puppy in the process because that's just the type of dude he is, apparently). Jack Soloff is a great villain because he's very reminiscent of Daniel Hardman, a fact that Jessica mentions at the end of the episode. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

What was so great about this week's Louis/Mike team-up was that it allowed both of them to forge little threads of trust again. These two have had a rough go of it in their friendship and I think that Mike was able to see how hard Louis was trying (wasn't it adorable to watch Mike defend Louis to Jessica?). Does this mean Louis will continue to be an upstanding partner for the remainder of the season? Well, who knows. All I know is that Louis Litt is capable of being a team player. He's not a lone wolf. He's not someone who always has to be defiant or go rogue. He's allowed his experiences to shape him into a better person. And even if it's only for this week, that's enough.

Donna/Gretchen

WE FINALLY GOT THE LONG-AWAITED GRETCHEN/DONNA MEETING. And it. was. glorious. In "Privilege," Donna is helping Mike accomplish a near-impossible task -- book The Plaza for his and Rachel's wedding. She's always wanted it there on her birthday, and Donna, like the queen she is, assures Mike that she'll take care of it. The only problem? She's putting on a pretty good act. Gretchen sees right through it, though, and calls her out on it. Here's what I love about Gretchen -- she's a straight shooter. Even Donna schmoozes and skirts the truth in order to preserve feelings. With Gretchen, there is no facade, no walls, and no foggy glass. She is what she appears to be and she says what other people need to hear, whether they want to hear it or not.

For Donna, she's been struggling for weeks to accept her new position and move on from life with Harvey. Donna is... Donna is the rock of Pearson Specter. She's the constant, there, and people love constants. We love stability, right? We love knowing what to expect when we walk into work. We like surprises in small doses, but not often when it comes to the foundations of our relationships. Bible parable/Floridian story: so there's a parable in the Bible about the man who built his house upon a rock and one who built it upon the sand. Having lived in Florida for almost 13 years, I appreciate the beach metaphors because I know what beaches are like during hurricane season. I've been through a bunch of hurricanes already. And what happens when your house isn't strong or something isn't secured properly (like the year we had loose bags of shingles on our roof because the roofers left them up there) is this: things fall apart. Shingles slide off the roof and into the yard, scattered everywhere. The foolish man who built his house upon the sand? It crumbled. Why? Because sand is no place to lay a foundation. Sand is fun for a trip but it's not sturdy enough to help you weather storm after storm, year after year.

Donna was always Harvey's strong foundation -- she was the rock and for 12 years, and in a lot of ways, he was hers. But she's not just the rock for Harvey. She's the rock for Mike and Rachel, too. And Jessica. And Louis. They all believe in her so much that she would rather pretend she has her crap together than admit that her own foundation is cracking. How do you admit to people that you're feeling weak when you're always THEIR strength? Gretchen is able to see this clearly in Donna.

At the end of the episode (after Sarah Rafferty absolutely had me laughing with Donna's French accent), after Donna manages to secure The Plaza for Mike and Rachel, Gretchen confronts Donna about the real reason the redhead didn't introduce herself or welcome her to Pearson Specter Litt earlier: she wasn't ready. Donna wasn't ready to invite another person into her life because she wasn't ready to let go of the pieces of herself still clinging to that desk. Do I think what Gretchen meant was that Donna is totally over any feelings she has toward Harvey? Nope, absolutely not. What Gretchen meant was that you can't welcome someone to a new job if you still think of it as your job.

You can't let go of something if there are still parts of you that are clinging to it.

Donna let the part of herself that was the Donna-and-Harvey part go. She's moved herself into a new desk with a new space with a new partner. She's embracing the Donna-and-Louis part of herself. But don't think for a second that letting go of Donna-and-Harvey means she doesn't care about him. She does. Immensely. And Gretchen knows Harvey cares immensely for her, too.

I think what Gretchen was getting at toward the end of the episode was this idea that in order to become the best version of ourselves we can be, we have to shed off the pieces of us that are holding us back from becoming that person. Louis had to let go of his pettiness before he could realize the joy of being a part of the team. Harvey had to drop his walls, defenses, and self-destructive tendencies before he could really begin to embrace the parts of him that need to be healed. And Donna had to let go of the parts of her that were still labeled "Harvey Specter's secretary" in order to embrace a new friendship, new outlook on herself, and chance for a new -- better -- slate with Harvey in the future.

Thanks, Gretchen. Please stay around Pearson Specter Litt forever. Okay? Okay.

And now, bonus points:
  • Instead of what we usually discuss, here's something fashion-related: I really loved the blue suit and tie thing that Harvey was rocking during his sidewalk confrontation with Dr. Agard. It was really nice.
  • "... Am I in the right office?"
  • "I only have a certain amount of non-pettiness in me."
  • "Ohhhhh, sneaky little bear." Okay, but can we talk about the fact that Donna named the little bear that the honey is in? Because we need to talk about that. And also Sarah Rafferty was just comedic GOLD in this episode. Her riff with Mike at the beginning of the episode was amazing.
  • I'm unsure as to why Donna Paulsen isn't a wedding planner. Like, seriously. She could be a millionaire, easily, if she did. Also, can I have a fictional character plan my future wedding? Is that a thing that's acceptable? Because I want Donna.
  • "You want the bad news or the worse news?"
  • "You're a self-serving narcissist."
  • Both A- and B-stories blew up at the same time tonight and I quite appreciated that parallelism.
  • I said "GO RACHEL" tonight which are two words I usually don't say together during a Suits episode, and yet she was amazing. Rachel in the exact right doses is awesome.
  • "You're all right, Gretchen."
  • ........... DANIEL HARDMAN? AGAIN? *eye roll* I am so tired of Hardman. He used to grate on my nerves in a good way, and now he does in a bad way.
Well, my friends, what did you think of this episode? I thought it was a lot more comedically solid than dramatically (though the confrontations between Harvey and Paula were great). Hit up the comments with your thoughts! Until then. :)

2 comments:

  1. Great review!! :) Even though there hasn't been any Harvey/Donna interaction in so long, sigh...
    I'm kind of dreading the next episode 'cause in the promo it looks like Harvey slept with Louis' sister and Donna will know and.... no, just no :D

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