Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Suits 6x12 Review: "The Painting" (Forgiveness... Can You Imagine?)

"The Painting"
Original Airdate: February 1, 2017

I once heard it said that bitterness is like swallowing poison, hoping the other person dies. The point of the analogy, of course, being that bitterness doesn't harm someone else — nor does anger. What it does, however, is eat away at us and slowly kill us. "The Painting" tackles the subject of anger and forgiveness extremely well. In fact, it's the best Suits episodes in a very long time. Maybe even of all time.

Perhaps it's because we took a break from the high-powered legal world (and that meant that I got the chance to take a break from trying to wrap my head around the legal jargon and loopholes that are expertly spouted each week). Or maybe it was because we got the chance to see flashbacks of Harvey, Marcus, and Lily Specter. But the real reason this episode stands out to me is because its emotional core resonates with all of us and progresses Harvey as a character in the process. Forgiveness is messy. It's complex. It's downright hard. But NOT forgiving someone is often more detrimental to us than we realize. Donna astutely pointed that out at the end of last week's episode — because Harvey refuses to forgive his mother, he's relying on the team at Pearson Specter Litt to fill a hole in his life they were never meant to fill. And the only way he can resolve that is by finally forgiving Lily. Which he does... but not easily.

Forgiveness is hard. It is messy, it is beautiful, but it is hard. And I'm really thankful we got the chance to witness Harvey learn that in "The Painting."


Most of the episode focuses on Harvey, so most of this review will do likewise. Harvey decides he's finally ready to forgive his mother, and we get that decision juxtaposed with the decision he made years ago to attend his father's funeral. In both instances, Harvey's rock and moral conscience  known by her mortal name of Donna Paulsen — convinces him to make amends. In the flashbacks (I missed Suits flashbacks, didn't you?), it is Donna who pushes Harvey to attend his father's funeral, even though his mother will be in attendance. Donna's reasoning? If he misses this because of Lily, he'll never forgive himself. Harvey's father's funeral isn't for Harvey or Lily — it's for Gordon. Meanwhile, in the present-day, Harvey misses his flight to see his mother on purpose, and Donna gives him a pep talk, telling him that he's ready. The fact that he packed his suitcase means he's ready. Harvey seems grateful for her encouragement, and hops on a flight to meet Lily.

This whole episode juxtaposes the past with the present, and both time periods hit a crossroads in which Harvey blows up at his mother and leaves. If you think that's a coincidence, it's not. Harvey does this thing where he faces his problems long enough to feel good about himself but then bolts at the first sign of conflict. He wants the road to forgiveness to be easy and painless, but in reality, it's anything but that. Forgiveness requires sacrifice — on the part of the person who is forgiving, and the person being forgiven. In the flashbacks, Harvey was initially resistant to forgiving or even speaking to his mother, but something important nudged him in the right direction.

Harvey meets Marcus at the cemetery, and the man informs him that Lily will be saying a few words at Gordon's funeral. Harvey is angered and dismissive of this and his mother... until he hears her words. Watching Gabriel Macht break down as Harvey was a sight to behold. It was beautiful to see him become more and more vulnerable as he heard about how much his father loved him and Marcus. It was also the catalyst for Harvey wanting to forgive his mother. He recognized the fact that she may have done something horrible, but that if Gordon could forgive and make it work with her, then maybe he could too. And that almost happens... until Bobby, Lily's current partner and a man she cheated on Gordon with, shows up at the wake. The fact that Bobby shows up sets Harvey over the edge. Any hope of reconciliation is immediately decimated in that moment. And so, Harvey leaves even angrier at his mother than when he arrived.

In the present-day, things are off to a slightly better start. Harvey is in a good place when he meets Lily — he compromises on a time, and they both seem genuinely excited to sit down with one another and catch up. Harvey is fully prepared to forgive his mother. But what he doesn't expect is for her to want an apology from him, too. Anger drives wedges between relationships, and often we think anger only affects us. We're the only ones who have to carry it around. And sometimes we — like Harvey — do so proudly and boldly. We're the righteously indignant, after all. The world owes us because of how we've suffered. Or, at the very least, the person who wronged us owes us something.

It's easy to forget, then, that our anger we can hurt other people too. Harvey is so fixated on his own anger that he doesn't realize what it's done to his mother, or what it has done to Marcus. Lily tells Harvey that she's ready to forgive him, and he's baffled. Forgive him for what, exactly? She then explains that 20 years of him not caring whether she lives or dies was painful. Lily may have hurt Harvey, but he continues to hurt her and their family years later. Lily is right in a lot of ways — Harvey's method of operation is to get angry and walk out on people whenever things get rough. He's stubbornly held onto his anger and bitterness for years. But Harvey is also right. Lily hurt him and to think that time will heal it without an apology is absurd.

After his angry outburst in which he leaves (a habit we all know Harvey favors whenever things get heated or difficult), Bobby shows up to yell some sense into him. Harvey doesn't care about what Lily is feeling because he doesn't believe that she deserves any pity. But that attitude separates him from his family. So much, in fact, that Marcus reveals he got sick again a few years prior and didn't tell Harvey.


That gutted me, and it did Harvey, too. It's easy for Harvey to be mad at Lily — to blame her for so much in his life. But "The Painting" was an amazing episode in which Harvey realized that his bitterness and anger is hurting his family. Marcus has forgiven his mom, and Harvey's refusal to prevented his brother from confiding in him. Marcus' speech about how Harvey isn't a part of their family because he hasn't made the effort was heartbreaking. And it's this that really strikes a chord in Harvey. It's the fact that he's lost a good chunk of his work family and his real family that really wakes him up.

So he visits his mom's art class, and he genuinely apologizes for what went wrong between them. Moreover, Lily apologizes too. And she lets him in on a little secret — even through all those years he hated her, she never stopped loving him. It's an incredibly emotional moment to cap off an incredibly emotional episode (I can't emphasize Gabriel Macht's brilliance too much), and sets Harvey on a path of self-growth and reconciliation. He and his mother hug, express their love for one another, and forgive each other. Now that he's accomplished this, Harvey is ready to work to get Pearson Specter Litt back in order. Watching him grow as a person — not without missteps — in this episode is so pivotal to the rest of the season.

Forgiveness. Can you imagine?

I can't say it enough: this week's Suits was really emotional and incredible. My only concern is that this episode was SO good, I don't know how next week can possibly live up to it!

And now, bonus points:
  • Have I talked enough yet about Gabriel Macht? He navigated the nuances in Harvey's character — balancing both the past and present day versions of him — so deftly. It was incredible, emotional, and perfect.
  • In our B-story this week, Mike gets a new job as a supervisor at a legal clinic. (I don't know exactly how he's heeding Anita Gibbs' warning, but I assume he's in the clear because he's technically not practicing law?) He meets a really enthusiastic young law student and helps her with a case... much to her anger and chagrin. That's because everyone at the new legal clinic assumes Mike is just some lawyer who couldn't cut it in corporate law. Mike takes steps in the right direction this episode, telling everyone about what happened to him and why he wants to work at the legal clinic. To further prove that Mike is growing, when a client loses in court and is on the verge of being evicted, Mike personally pays for her rent so that she can stay in her home. I actually quite liked Mike's storyline, you guys.
  • "You remember me." "I remember everyone." Sometimes I forget that Mike has a photographic memory. It used to be this show's major plot point. Everyone remember those days?
  • "I think you meant you'd live in a shoe box if the Thai place still delivered." "... And the sushi place." "Of course."
  • "Why now?" "Someone very special to me convinced me I needed to." "Whoever it is... I'm glad she did." And then we all dissolved into puddles of feelings.
  • I'm really glad the firm is remaining Pearson Specter Litt. Mostly because I don't want to have to change what I call it in my reviews. Yes, I'm selfish in that way.
  • The final shot of Harvey smiling next to Donna was beautiful.
What did you all think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. This was really a remarkable episode, the one we've been waiting for for years now and the writers and actors did it great justice.
    I'm looking forward to the show becoming more lighthearted now!