Friday, August 26, 2016

Suits 6x07 Review: "Shake the Trees" (And They All Came Tumbling Down)

"Shake the Trees"
Original Airdate: August 24, 2016

In life, timing is everything. Whether we're trying to determine exactly when we should change careers, pursue a relationship, or start a family, making the right decision at the right time is crucial. But the truth is that timing is just as important in writing and television as it is in real life. For Suits, timing has always been imperative. The writers had to determine when everyone would find out Mike's secret, and the fallout from the secret reveal has been unraveling for years. But now, the writers have another difficult timing situation to work out — the timing and pacing of Mike's imprisonment. Suits follows a pretty linear format, and the only time jumps they include are their iconic flashback episodes each season. In this week's episode, however, it appeared (for a brief moment) that maybe — just maybe — Mike Ross would make it out of prison and the show would have to figure out a way to incorporate him back into the lives of everyone else at Pearson Specter Litt.

... Okay, who are we kidding? We all knew that Mike couldn't get out of prison this early. It's not the mid-season finale yet! And though I feel like for the most part this prison vs. law firm separation of characters has worked in the show's favor, "Shake the Trees" was another misstep in terms of arc and characterization for Mike Ross. While the show tries to keep Mike in prison because it's not the right time to let him out, they're stretching their plot pretty thin in order to stick to their timeline. The result is an episode that was just okay, if a bit frustrating in terms of Mike's story.


I have to confess to something — I know that Mike's relentless loyalty is supposed to be endearing, but in "Shake the Trees," it's just annoying. When Mike has the opportunity to get out of prison, but it means that Kevin's wife will be prosecuted and in jail, he gives it up (or stalls at least) and pretty much begs Harvey to find another way to get him out of jail AND not put Kevin's wife in jail. At this point in time, I'm kind of baffled by Mike's attitude. He wants Harvey to be jumping through every possible hoop -- get Gallo out of his hair, prevent Kevin's wife from being imprisoned, find evidence to prosecute Sutter without revealing Kevin's wife to Cahill, and... oh yeah, get HIM out of jail. Harvey Specter is a lot of things, but miracle-worker isn't one of them. His ability to try and do everything Mike asks will result in his inability to do one thing. And that one thing is the only thing Harvey cares about.

Harvey cares deeply about Mike, and his primary goal is getting him out of prison. That's why he teamed up with Sean Cahill in the first place. While Cahill wants justice to be served, and rightfully so, he has no real emotional stake in Mike's future. He cares, don't get me wrong  but he just doesn't care as much as Harvey. He can't. And he won't, ever. So while it was amazing to get the chance to watch Harvey and Cahill team up, it made sense in the end that Cahill tried and fought but lost Mike's deal. He just couldn't risk letting Sutter go in order to save Mike. And I don't blame him at all. Cahill has his own reasons for putting Sutter away (equally, if not more, valid and emotional reasons). So when Harvey breaks down at the end of the episode, I felt for him. But also, I have to wonder exactly why Mike keeps delaying his freedom. (I mean, I KNOW why — it's because the writers want to keep him in prison longer because that's where the story is this season.)

Honestly, I'm hopeful that Cahill will have some sort of involvement throughout the rest of the episodes leading up to the mid-season finale, because having Neal McDonough back on my screen is perfect. Cahill's banter and relationship with Harvey has been a saving grace of this season -- Harvey is at his most likable when he's being challenged, but also when he's getting stuff done. The real (and fake) arguments between the two have provided some levity, but also some really good character growth for Cahill, who was the show's one-note villain a few seasons ago. It's good to see Harvey and Cahill challenge one another and ultimately emerge better people and lawyers because of it.

But Mike, unfortunately, has become one of the most irritating — if not the most irritating — aspect of Suits this season. His entitlement, his demand for everyone to provide every whim for him, and his delusional expectations are wearing my patience thin. But since we've already discussed how annoying Mike is for longer than I would prefer, let's talk about characters who aren't annoying!


When I heard that Jessica and Rachel would be getting a story together this season, I was — admittedly — apprehensive. She's still uncertain in her authority and her position at Pearson Specter Litt in a lot of ways. And she DOES have Jessica as her back-up when she has to tell Leonard that his execution date has been set. But what really impresses me about Rachel these days is her unwavering strength and faith in herself. If someone tells her to do something she knows is a good idea, she does it. Rachel Zane of seasons past would have argued until she got her way.

But now, without Mike there to distract her, Rachel is becoming a fully-realized character who is finding strength within herself and confidence in a job. What was especially impressive this week was Rachel handling the father of a murder victim (who believes Leonard killed his daughter). While being yelled at and accosted, Rachel is clearly shaken up and is saved by an enraged Gretchen (GOD BLESS GRETCHEN). But she stands her ground and keeps her composure in the face of a really horrible experience. And earlier in the episode, at the prison, she also manages to keep her composure even when Leonard is yelling in her face. Rachel Zane has always been someone who is extremely headstrong, but this year, she's managed to turn that quality into something even more powerful — resilience.

Rachel is not about to give up. She's not blaming people around her for her problems. She's genuinely listening to Jessica, even when her boss' opinion contradicts her own. And what I really love is that Jessica is learning from Rachel, too. She's able to see growth and she's able to see Rachel's hard work and persistence. Now that there is no one in Pearson Specter Litt, Rachel is able to shine in Jessica's eyes. This week, perhaps one of the most important lessons Rachel learned was that asking for help does not make you childish; it makes you smart. It's understandable that Rachel feels like a child asking her father for help, but Jessica and Harvey ask people for help and favors all the time. It's not a sign of weakness, but rather an invitation into a relationship. Now that Rachel's father has helped her out, there will come a time in which she will need to help him out. It's really great and important to see Rachel learning the value of reciprocal relationships in law.

I'm proud of Rachel Zane. Truly, I am. She's becoming a stronger and better person because of all that she's facing and the interest she's taken in the Innocence Project. For the first time in a very long time, Rachel has something that she feels complete and total ownership of. And she's doing a kick-butt job at it.

Suits wasn't great this week, and I can see the show slowly slipping back into its old habits if it is not careful. While separating the characters and their stories still seems like the best plan of action, I fear that Mike will only grow more insufferable and lose the very qualities that are supposed to be redeeming him and his arc in prison. I guess only time will tell.

And now, bonus points:
  • No, I didn't mention it above but yes, there was another pointless story about Louis' love life this week that Donna was shoehorned into. And yes, props to you, Suits, for at least acknowledging in-show that Donna has been doing nothing but serve as Louis' personal assistant for the first half of this season. That still doesn't make up for her lack of a story either, or the shoddy (also) shoehorning in of a man apparently Donna was dating. While Rick Hoffman and Sarah Rafferty have incredible chemistry as Louis and Donna and I believe that Louis loves and appreciates her, I just wish Donna would have her own story this season. Sigh.
  • I love Neal McDonough as Sean Cahill. Have I mentioned that?
  • Harvey and Louis' relationship is great in this season. I love that they're actually managing to work together.
  • All of the women having to do the work because the men can't handle it: Suits, a summary.
  • "I'm Donna. And I'm awesome." Seriously, that moment was one of the greatest moments in the show's recent history. Bow down, y'all. The queen isn't going anywhere.
  • Harvey smiles are my favorite smiles.
  • Gallo is not as dumb as he initially appears -- he managed to figure out what Harvey and Mike were up to and is now using that to get what he wants.
What did you all think of "Shake the Trees"? Sound off in the comments below!


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