Original Airdate: January 25, 2017
Sudden change will either do one of two things to you: strengthen you, or break down your resolve. None of us really knows how we will respond to change, however, until we’re in the midst of it. And oftentimes, we behave in ways we didn’t expect — we snap at our close friends, we stay stuck in denial, or we adapt and move forward. In Suits’ midseason finale, we saw all of our characters experience a pretty earth-shattering change in the abrupt departure of Jessica Pearson from the firm. With no more leader to look to, “She’s Gone” finds our characters wondering exactly what to do next — and not having much time to act. If they wait too long to figure out who actually is managing partner now that Jessica is gone, the whole firm will be weakened and fall apart in no time at all. And, if you’ll recall, Mike is experiencing his own form of change as he tries to figure out what to do with his life now that he’s out of jail and can no longer illegally practice law. Change affects us all, and while some characters are using Jessica’s absence to embrace new possibilities and grow and adapt, others find themselves sinking back into their same old bad habits.
HARVEY VS. LOUIS
The biggest hurdle that Harvey and Louis have to tackle in this episode is the question of who will be the ultimate leader of the firm now that Jessica has left. As much as the two spend time in “She’s Gone” trying to play co-leaders, the reality is that this dynamic can’t last forever. Someone has to be the ultimate authority. And, as Robert Zane notes, that decision will tear Harvey and Louis apart.
You know, up until this episode, Harvey and Louis have been in a pretty good place recently. They banded together and have seemed to grow closer as individuals and co-workers. That’s why watching them have one of their biggest brawls ever in this episode was so painful. Of course, it was Louis’ fault — he wanted to be vindictive toward Robert Zane and prove his worth. What he didn’t realize was that Zane was trying to offer the firm help, not take Pearson Specter Litt away from them (though is it just Specter Litt now? Inquiring minds want to know), or force a merger for his own glee. When Louis tried to recruit Zane’s associates AND his biggest client, things started to hit the fan. The reality is, Robert Zane let his associates out of their non-competes, and Louis realized far too late that Zane wasn’t trying to hurt Pearson Specter Litt; he was trying to help them. Because as much as Robert Zane tries to be tough and unforgiving, he cares about the place his daughter loves and doesn’t want to see her sink with it.
The fact that Louis did this behind Harvey’s back, as you might imagine, sends Harvey into a tailspin of rage. But I was surprised at the self-actualization/resignation from Louis in this episode. He recognized the fact that what he did — wanting to beat Robert Zane and steal his associates away because he perceived the man to be a threat to his pride — makes him unfit to be leading the firm. It’s a startling moment, really, because we’re so used to seeing Louis fight back against Harvey and seek to prove his worth. That’s kind of Louis’ whole shtick, after all: he does something rash, messes everything up, and then tells the person (or people) he’s hurt/betrayed that he did it all because he wanted to be taken seriously. With Tara’s baby on the way, though, I wonder if Louis has started to at least subtly recognize the fact that all of his actions have consequences, and he has to start taking responsibility for them. He can’t mess up and then complain when Harvey doesn’t see him as an equal. And he can’t be seen as an equal if he keeps getting the firm into hot water.
So when Harvey does blow up (and it’s a doozy, stopped only by Donna and Gretchen in the doorway), Louis doesn’t immediately rant and rail against him. He’s quiet and contemplative and it’s probably the first little bit of growth we’ve seen in Louis in this area in a long time.
But that doesn’t mean Harvey is totally in the right, either. He’s internalized his anger and grief over Jessica suddenly leaving, and isn’t handing the fact that Mike left very well either. Harvey is slowly losing control on the things in his life that were certainties. As Donna implies, he might be lashing out against Louis because it’s easier to pick a fight with him since it’s familiar than face the unknown and decision-making that comes with it.
Only time will tell when Harvey and Louis will be back on good terms (my assumption is that it won’t take long for them to make amends, since they’ll be forced to work together to get the firm back on its feet), but my hope is that this episode taught Louis exactly how ill-equipped he is to be a leader and that it helps him become a better one.
THE HARVEY/DONNA OF IT ALL
You guys don’t know how much I wanted to prepare you for that opening scene, but I couldn’t spoil anything. Needless to say that while this episode didn’t have a whole lot of Harvey/Donna interaction, it had significant moments — and I’ll get to the end in a bit — that were integral to these two moving forward as co-workers and partners.
The episode opens with a Harvey dream-turned-nightmare where he’s in bed in the morning and Donna (wearing his shirt) brings him coffee. The two clearly spent the night together, and kiss (!!!), before Donna tells him that she’s quitting her job as his secretary. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with Harvey who feels like Donna is abandoning him. Quickly, Donna retorts that she hasn’t left him — Jessica has. It’s then that Harvey wakes up, panicked. What does the dream mean, you ask? Well, it’s pretty obvious that Harvey has these conflicting feelings warring inside of him. On the one hand, he’s dreaming of what could be — of the happiest thing he can think of, which is (no surprise) Donna. It’s in her that he finds comfort and solace and happiness. Remember how the midseason finale ended? It ended with the two of them holding hands, and with Harvey accepting the comforting presence of someone else. As long as Donna is by his side, Harvey feels okay. The moment her presence is threatened, he unravels. And now, because of everything that has happened with Jessica, Harvey is able to open up more to Donna than ever before. Instead of being alone, he allows Donna to be present with him in these moments of vulnerability.
And that is precisely why their scene at the end of the episode is so important. Donna has always been the only person gentle and firm enough to break through all of Harvey’s walls. As I noted just a few moments earlier, with Jessica gone, Harvey’s walls are weaker than ever and it’s allowing him the opportunity to actually be vulnerable. That’s why Donna gently tells Harvey that before the firm can become whole again, Harvey needs to stop relying on them as his sole source of family. He has other family — a biological one — and he needs to make things right with them before he can be the leader that Pearson Specter Litt needs him to be.
It’s an abrupt, emotional end to the episode as Donna tells Harvey: “Please? Go see her.” This is going to be the season that Harvey starts actually dealing with his issues with his mom (things, in my opinion, that have prevented him from starting a relationship with Donna), and the fact that it was Donna and not a therapist who encouraged him to do this is so important to me and to their relationship. And Donna is right, after all: the people at the firm don’t mind Harvey relying on them for help and support but he cannot ask them to be his only family. It’s too much pressure on them and it prevents Harvey from confronting the issues with his real family.
As this season of Suits moves forward, I’m excited to watch Harvey grow as a person and a leader. And that will, undoubtedly, bring him closer to Donna.
MIKE STARTS ANEW, AND RACHEL CONTEMPLATES HER FUTURE
With Mike rejecting Harvey’s offer to work at Pearson Specter Litt in a consulting capacity, you might wonder what his new plan is. You’re not alone. Mike’s whole plan in "She’s Gone" is to accomplish the things he said to the jury before he went to jail. Namely, he wants to actually dedicate the rest of his career to helping people. He doesn’t want to return to a corporate law environment. He wants to do some good in the world. But as Mike quickly finds out, there’s one thing preventing him from doing that: a little checkbox on every job application that asks if he’s ever been convicted of a felony.
Starting with a fresh slate isn’t as easy for Mike as he would have hoped for. And Harvey doesn’t make it any easier for him in this episode. He asks Mike to consider returning to the firm, and tries to force the hand of those in authority (specifically Anita Gibbs) to get Mike back in a law job. When Mike learns about this, he’s furious that Harvey went behind his back and did something he was explicitly told not to do. Harvey means well, but he doesn’t understand that his need for things to return to a quasi-normal and Mike’s need to make a difference in peoples’ lives do not currently align. They may never align again.
Instead, this episode finds Mike trying on a profession which I thought he would actually be well-suited for: a teaching job at his old Catholic school. Fittingly, Mike teaches a class of juvenile delinquents and after a rough start, he finally breaks through to them when he tells them that their teacher has cancer and will likely die. It’s the same priest that Mike had when he was in school, and the news sobers the class — allowing Mike the chance to break through to them.
Unfortunately for Mike, one of the students told his parents that a convicted felon was his teacher and Mike gets the boot from his Catholic school. I’m actually a lot more bummed about this development than I thought I would. Watching Mike teach these kids could have been a really interesting development for his character and for his career. I would watch a show that contrasted the teaching world with the high-powered world of law. Alas, Mike is now back on the job hunt and who knows what else will await him!
(Undoubtedly, he’ll find himself back at Pearson Specter Litt because isn’t that how these things always go?)
Meanwhile, Rachel is contemplating her future when her father offers her a job after graduation at his firm. Her dad — and the dean of her school — make a good and compelling argument: when she faces the character and ethics portion of The Bar Exam, it will look better if she works for his firm rather than Pearson Specter Litt. Gretchen and Rachel have a nice moment in “She’s Gone,” when the latter accidentally leaves her offer letter in a case file. Gretchen promises not to tell, but Rachel wants to talk to someone about this. She’s conflicted because she’s loyal, but also if she’s loyal to Pearson Specter Litt and doesn’t pass The Bar, she will be loyal for nothing. Gretchen tells her that if Harvey and Louis don’t get their act together, she won’t have to choose between her father’s firm or her current one anyway.
After Louis has been torn a new one by Harvey, Gretchen tentatively approaches him and tells him that he has managed to make a mark on the firm’s future: he got ten new associates to come and work for them. But there’s one other thing he can do to help Pearson Specter Litt get back on its feet: show some love to a person who has been loyal to them for a long time.
That person, as you’ve guessed, is Rachel. Louis and Rachel have always had an interesting dynamic, and I’ve liked their storylines together in the past. He treats her with respect, for the most part, and she’s unafraid to stand up to him and hold her ground. I think Rachel is one of the few people Louis really and truly cares about, and so his offer to her to become a second-year associate is really sweet. They hug (aww!) and she accepts his offer. I guess Rachel’s loyalty will be tested this season and I’m interested to see if anything or anyone can drive her away from Pearson Specter Litt.
The back half of this season of Suits has the potential to be interesting and propel character development (and maybe some Harvey/Donna relationship development) for everyone. Bring on the drama, show!