“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?
HE’S THE WOOOOOOOOOOORST. THE WORST.
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...
OH, NAÏVE LITTLE GIRL
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? I really don’t get why Jessica ended up caving to a LAW STUDENT who rattles on and on about justice but hasn’t seen enough of the real world to understand the price. Rachel is the kind of woman who uses all of these words and speeches to try and validate her own emotions. And while listening to your gut is important, sometimes it feels like Rachel avoids the practical in favor of the emotional. And acting on emotions, rather than facts, isn’t how Jessica Pearson operates. Again, I don’t know why Jessica decided to listen to Rachel. But this is the first time this season that I really disliked Rachel and decisions she’s made.
HARVEY, THE MOST PRECIOUS SNOWFLAKE
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!