Thursday, September 8, 2016

Suits 6x09 Review: “The Hand That Feeds You” (And Another One Doesn’t Bite the Dust)

“The Hand That Feeds You”
Original Airdate: September 7, 2016

When this season of Suits began, I mentioned how excited I was that the show was finally shaking things up and that Mike would be separated from the rest of the characters. For the first few episodes of the season, his story in prison was compelling. It was wonderful to see him struggle, and it was even more wonderful to see the other characters shine during his absence from the firm and their lives. But what was so important about this storyline was that Mike finally got caught in the web of lies that he spun (and forced others to spin on his behalf) for the last six years. I was excited to see how Mike’s character would evolve after his time in prison. Would he be a better, more humble version of himself? After all, nothing will knock down your ego quite like being in prison. Would he be able to survive? How would he survive? In the first episode of this season, Julius mentioned that the goal of prison is to rehabilitate the inmates who are leaving — to make them realize what made them broken in the first place and build themselves from the bottom up again.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise to me that Mike Ross learned nothing in prison. Let’s talk about “The Hand That Feeds You” more in-depth, shall we?

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I was eagerly anticipating this prison story because I thought that it would give Mike the chance to explore what he did and express remorse for it. This could be a way for him to separate from the identity he constructed under fraud and lies for years. Mike Ross is not a lawyer. He has not been a real lawyer for the last few years — that has all been a lie. It’s something he desperately wanted for himself, and being a lawyer made him feel important. It made him feel like his life mattered, and that he could actually make a difference. And while Mike did a lot of good things under a lie, the truth remains that he lied. He deceived his clients and his friends (for a while), and he never really believed he had to pay for that. How do I know this? Because even in prison, as Sean Cahill so brilliantly pointed out this week, Mike is still trying to be a lawyer.

I’ll pause for a moment to say that my loathing of Mike Ross this year has nothing to do with Patrick J. Adams. In fact, it’s a testament to his acting that he’s able to make me hate his character because I feel like Adams is just a delightful human being. But Mike is insufferable. From start to finish in prison, his recklessness and his entitlement have nearly gotten him killed on multiple occasions. So when he doesn’t tell Harvey about a dangerous plan he concocts to get Frank Gallo sent back to maximum security prison, I rolled my eyes. The acting in that moment was intense and great, but Mike Ross is the stupidest, most myopic person on this show. If his plan failed, he would have been killed by Gallo. But Mike doesn’t care — when he is locked on a goal, you better get on board or get out of the way.

Ironically enough, it’s Harvey Specter who has changed the most these days. He’s not as brash (even though he has his moments, of course) and reckless. He’s calculated and decisive, and his plans are always thought-out. Mike, on the other hand, will do anything it takes to get what he wants. And in this week’s episode, he wants Kevin to get out of prison too. Of course, Mike gets everything he wants by the end of the episode — Gallo put in his place without Harvey compromising his own ethics; Kevin out of prison; his own release and seeing Rachel again, etc.

But the problem is that the Mike who exits the prison is actually a worse version of the man who entered it. Mike entered prison because he made a sacrifice — he would put himself away so that his friends and loved ones wouldn’t be imprisoned. And he exits as a man who realizes that if he complains and argues and fights long enough, he’ll always get his way. I’m not sure what the difference is between Mike Ross and a toddler these days, but I would almost venture to say that a toddler is easier to deal with at this point.

No surprise here: I don’t like Mike at all right now, and Rachel has grown on me in the past few episodes, but when the two of them are together, I feel like everything is wrong in the world. Speaking of Rachel Zane...


I’ve really warmed up to Rachel since Mike has been in prison, but this was the first episode in a while in which I thought most of what she said and did was in the wrong. When Rachel brilliantly finds evidence that the lawyer who initially tried Leonard’s case was negligent in her duties, a judge rules to reopen the case. Leonard Bailey gets the opportunity to make a deal though: five more years in prison, and then he’s out. The other option? They take the case to trial and there’s a chance Jessica and Rachel lose, thereby condemning Leonard to the punishment he doesn’t deserve already.

Jessica firmly puts Rachel in her place when the former suggests that they take the case to trial. While she has a point — that Leonard will be seen as a criminal when he gets out of prison if they take the deal — Jessica Pearson makes a more compelling one. If they don’t take the deal and lose in court, there’s a chance Leonard will die for a crime he didn’t commit. Rachel has never tried a case as a lawyer; she’s still a law student. And yet, on so many occasions and in so many instances throughout this show, Rachel Zane thinks she knows better than Jessica. Because she’s naïve and wants to save everyone, Rachel doesn’t realize the cost of what she does. Jessica Pearson does. She’s been around a long time and she’s played the game. She knows, from past experiences, that if a jury doesn’t believe them, an innocent person will die.

And it will be THEIR fault he does.

After Jessica admits that the reason she’s hesitant is because she tried a case just like Leonard’s before and it didn’t end well, Rachel points out the (accurate) fact that just because something happened before doesn’t mean it will again. Jessica is trigger-shy ever since Pearson Specter Litt went under. And that’s understandable. She’s taking this case because she wants to repair her image, but also because she just needs a win. The last thing she wants is for the firm’s image to tank and an innocent man be sentenced to death.

Her decision to move forward with the case and not take the deal proves that, I don’t know, Rachel knows things? I guess? And while listening to your gut is important, sometimes it feels like Rachel avoids the practical in favor of the emotional.


Harvey spends the entire episode trying to gently smack truth into Mike. He’s doing everything he can to keep Mike alive, and Mike keeps doing reckless things in the episode without telling Harvey because he’s freakin’ Mike. He goes behind Harvey’s back with both Sean Cahill and Cameron Dennis in order to secure his freedom, Kevin’s freedom, and Gallo’s imprisonment. This season, Harvey has been all about rationale and reason, and it’s actually a really awesome change of pace for a character who’s generally willing to do whatever it takes to win. This time, though, it’s not about winning: it’s about keeping Mike alive.

Repeatedly throughout the season, Harvey has expressed remorse or disgust for the things he’s had to do (chief among which was taking Sutter’s case) in order to keep Mike safe. He’s worked well with Louis, hasn’t really barked orders much at Donna, and has been openly communicating with Jessica about his issues whenever they arise. If any character has grown from this prison storyline, it’s Harvey — not Mike.

That makes me excited for the back half of the season, honestly. If Harvey is actually showing growth — professionally and emotionally — then there must be good things ahead for his character. Because someone needs to be the adult at the firm, and right now... it’s Harvey. The hoops he jumped through with the SEC and the lengths he was willing to go to in order to keep Gallo away from Mike weren’t always entirely ethical, but they came from a good place. Self-sacrificing Harvey is the most honest, vulnerable Harvey. And I love that we get to see him be tough, but also compassionate.

More of this Harvey Specter please!

As Suits wraps up next week with its midseason finale, I’m not really sure what to expect. Apart from the show throwing us the curveball of the firm shutting down, I don’t really know what they can do to surprise me at this point. With Mike out of prison, Rachel and Jessica working hard on their pro bono case, and Donna coaching Louis, there’s not a whole lot of room for the growth of an eleventh-hour drama.

Then again, I’ve definitely been wrong before.

And now, bonus points:

  • I DIDN’T HATE LOUIS AND DONNA’S STORY THIS WEEK. The two opened the episode by mudding together, and Donna gave Louis some practical advice about waiting for Tara to call him — distract himself with work. And, miracle of miracles, Louis ACTUALLY spent the entire episode doing just that. He didn’t pace his office, waiting for her to call. He didn’t start acting irrationally toward Donna because he was frazzled or upset. He just... worked. He literally spent the episode working and that was so amazing to see. Nevertheless, I still hate this storyline, mostly because of Tara. Apparently her boyfriend, Joshua, proposed to her. She evidently turned him down, but the way that she phrased it makes me think that she might still be dating him on the side, just not engaged to him. She’s shady and I don’t like her. And I definitely don’t like this storyline.
  • (As an aside, whenever I hear “Joshua,” I immediately think of Rachel Green.)
  • Does anyone know how long Mike was supposedly in prison?
  • "Nobody is better at research than you, but nobody is better at dropping the hammer than me." #LadiesSupportingLadies
  • Donna’s black and white dress was GORGEOUS.
  • “So you get my point?” “... No.”
  • Sean Cahill is such a sassy person. I love him all the more for it.
  • I loved Cameron Dennis re-iterating the plot of this season aloud because it makes it sound like the absurd trainwreck it is.

What did you all think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below and let me know what you hope happens in the midseason finale!


  1. Harvey has threatened to put a bounty out, kill a man, put multiple people "in the ground", was willing to collude, drugged Mike and framed Frank for it, was willing to perjure himself, and was also willing to set someone he deemed a sociopath capable of murder free on the street. He's also gotten physical with Frank, and was seconds away from punching Cahill (who went above and beyond for him) in the face. Harvey has been crossing lines all season, not sure how that translates into not being reckless and showing growth let alone being a "precious snowflake".

    1. I'm not going to say you're wrong here, because you're not. Yes, Harvey did all of those things. But he did everything this season for one reason -- to keep Mike alive and get him out. He shows remorse and guilt for thinking about and/or doing all those things you mentioned (except maybe almost punching Sean Cahill and threatening Gallo). He doesn't want to do them, but Harvey's always been about the bottom line. But the difference I see this season is that he's going through it with a team. Yes, he and Sean colluded, but Harvey softens up when Sean tells him the story of his mother (I think it was his mom, right?). So I'm not saying he's suddenly the moral high ground in this show, but that he's realized being a one-man army against the system is not going to help Mike at all. He needs to do things he doesn't want to do and work with people he doesn't want to work with in order to get the job done.

      Is it right that his bottom line almost lets a sociopath on parole? No, of course not. I'm not saying that everything Harvey did this season is right and morally pure. But his selfishness drove him toward people and plans. He and Cahill literally pretended to be mad at one another to get what each of them wanted. They put on acts in front of Sutter. They played their parts.

      The growth part is that he actually went to Jessica for help, stopped barking at Donna long enough to listen to her, and warred with Cahill but eventually learned that working with someone was better than working against them when they both had the same goal in mind.

      Mike, on the other hand, I argue this season has been entirely reckless in his pursuit of what he wants. He goes over Harvey TWICE in this episode in order to get what he wanted. It's never enough for Mike, which is his problem. It wasn't enough that he got out -- he needed Kevin to get out too and was willing to almost die to make that happen. Mike's reckless because he relies on himself, first and foremost, because he thinks he can do it all and knows it all (which is why I have a problem with Rachel, in her worst moments).

      So no, you're totally right: Harvey isn't a saint. But this season he at least learned that if you're gonna get a job done, go through it with a team. Keep them in the loop. Plan everything out meticulously. Mike, on the other hand, wings it all season and is lucky he makes it out alive.

  2. Great review as usual. I totally agree with your analysis of Harvey, he has progressed and learned a lot and hopefully we shall see the consequences in next episodes. He really deserves something good at this point, after all the heartbreak and stress of last two seasons.

    About Mike's prison time, Patrick said on Twitter it was about three weeks. Not enough to learn anything from the experience, unfortunately. Honestly right now I feel like he doesn't deserve all the struggle and the efforts Harvey had to go through to get him out. Hope there will be a reality check in line for him, soon.

  3. I guess now Harvey is going to get in trouble for all the shady things he did to get Mike out and that he's going to suffer for it during the final episodes this season.

  4. Mike Ross was like two days in jail, ha! I understand you completely when you say you loathe Mike. I don't understand what happened to the character, what happened to the writers' vision of this character. It's like its development is stuck. To me, Mike's motive isn't clear. He knew he committed a crime, he chose to go to prison as part of a deal to protect his friends but suddenly (after a few hours with his girlfriend) he wanted out. But he wanted out but not without demanding things from Harvey every episode. Meh. The prision arc could've been so much better in terms of personal development (for every character).

  5. Perhaps, that was the point of Mike's stay in prison. That he doesn't learn anything enough to rehabilitate himself and then realizes sometime after his release how much of a mistake that was. I think this will hit him the most when he tries to figure out his new place in the world. I hope I'm right about this. If not, then the writers only have themselves blamed for Mike's continued lack of growth.