Friday, July 28, 2017

Suits 7x03 Review: "Mudmare" (Undermining Authority)


"Mudmare"
Original Airdate: July 26, 2017

If I had to select a word to describe the first few episodes of Suits this season, I would use "upheaval." Instead of rising to the challenge of running Pearson Specter Litt, Harvey seems to be undermining the authority of his partners at every turn — leading to him making questionable decisions. Nothing is set anymore in Harvey's world, and the fact that he is not in control of what happened with Jessica leaving makes him all the more prone to latch onto the things he can control in his life and grip them tightly. In some ways, I do relate to Harvey's behavior. When our lives are in chaos, we often try to find the things we have control of — our eating habits, our relationships with friends or family, etc. — for some sort of comfort.

But while I can slightly relate to why Harvey wants control, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to justify or understand his decisions, especially in "Mudmare." Harvey Specter has not just become overbearing, but insufferable. He dismisses the advice of literally everyone in this episode. He goes for the emotional jugular when it comes to Louis, he is willing to sacrifice Mike (remember that guy he was willing to go to prison for?) to keep a client of Alex's, and he doesn't let Donna speak up for herself. He clings to a relationship — that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever — with Dr. Agard and essentially writes off her relationship concerns because Agard is just another little pillar of stability for Harvey. If he has some sort of control in their relationship, he can breathe easier.

Mental health is a subtle running theme through Suits, because all of these characters are in desperate need of therapy, but few seek it. Harvey has suffered through panic attacks and control issues (as well as a plethora of abandonment issues too), while Louis is struggling with self-worth and at the end of the episode it's pretty clear that something much deeper is going on. But we'll get to that in a moment.

First, let me spend the majority of this review talking about why Harvey Specter has become the most insufferable character on Suits, and maybe television, this season.

HARVEY CARES UNTIL HE DOESN'T


One of the most baffling things to me this season is where Harvey's loyalties lie. We saw last week that Harvey never intended to make Donna a partner. It was a platitude (one that she saw through, thankfully) and something he took back after giving it to her for a short period of time. Instead of being the protector of the firm, Harvey seems to be directionless — he forces Mike in this episode to give up his pro-bono case because there is a conflict of interest with one of Alex's (the new partner) clients. I get that Harvey is in a new role and is the one who is managing partner, but everything about this seems wildly out-of-character for a man who usually protects his friends and his firm. Mike, Louis, and Donna all make more sense in the episode than Harvey does. They want Harvey to keep his word to Mike about this case — one that is personal because it involved a young man dying in prison and, as we all know, Mike almost died in prison. But Harvey pulls rank on them in a move that is extremely jerky and intentionally condescending. 

Harvey wants to try and keep the firm afloat but he's losing himself in the process. He's not even becoming Jessica because Jessica would pull rank but still listen to reason. The only person Harvey seems to care about pleasing lately is Dr. Agard and I am frankly baffled as to why. This relationship has come out of nowhere, and not only has it come out of nowhere but apparently now Agard (whose first name I can't remember and don't care to look up) is the person Harvey trusts most in the world. Never mind the fact that we didn't see her for an entire season, but sure, Aaron Korsh. I'll believe that she's the only woman Harvey trusts and the only person he cares about pleasing. That makes total sense based on the seven years of character development I've seen in him. The thing is, I would not be surprised if season seven turned out to be Jessica Pearson's fever dream or something. The characters aren't themselves. They're shades and shadows of who they used to be. They're constantly flip-flopping (more than usual) and turning on one another (again, more than usual).

But no one is as insufferable as Harvey, who only cares about Dr. Agard and being right all of the time. If Harvey keeps having to pull rank to justify his decision-making, it's clear that he is not ready to be in the position of power he holds. He cannot just shut down advice and insight from his other partners and blindly follow what he wants to do. His priorities are out of whack, and I don't know exactly how they got that way or if there is any way for him to get them back in line. Right now, all I know is that Harvey is annoying me.

DONNA VS. RACHEL


I've been pretty open about it in the past, but Rachel has the tendency to annoy me. Now that she's in charge of the associates, rather than Louis, she should be assuming the role of a leader. But when an associate pawns her work off on a first-year, Rachel confronts the young woman and warns her to not do it again. But when she does and Rachel has the chance to put her foot down... she doesn't. So Donna steps up and threatens the woman not to disobey Rachel again.

Donna feels like she did Rachel a favor, but Rachel feels undermined. While I'm inclined to believe both women were in the wrong, Rachel has no backbone and needs to learn to get one if she's going to be in charge of people. I know that Donna apologizes a the end of the episode for overstepping bounds, but I don't think she was entirely wrong to do so. She knew that if Rachel didn't step up, things would begin to fall apart. Heck, Rachel even admits in this episode that she doesn't really want a position of authority. I think it could be good for her, but she seriously needs to develop some sort of backbone if she's ever going to be taken seriously. She can't be friends or comrades with the associates and get them to behave by using some anecdote. She has to be tough, and that's what Donna tries to tell her.

But Donna wasn't entirely in the right, either, and Rachel makes a good point: If Donna is the person constantly swooping in to fight her battles, Rachel will be undermined in front of her associates. At the end of the episode, the two women make up. But I appreciate the fact that Donna was the one to fire the terrible associate anyway.


SOMETHING IS TERRIBLY WRONG WITH LOUIS LITT


I don't know exactly what is happening — psychotic break, perhaps? — but at the end of "Mudmare," it is clear that Louis has gone entirely off the deep end. He calls his therapist in hysterical anger, and after a minute it becomes evident that Louis doesn't know he's talking to his therapist: he thinks he's talking to Harvey.

Louis spends most of the episode trying to be okay with the fact that Harvey and Alex are close. He tries to bond with Alex, which actually goes pretty well because the man has cats. But Harvey and Alex are old friends and when Louis catches them together headed to a business meeting (which Alex had to cancel his lunch with Louis for), he freaks out a bit. Louis' therapist warns him that if he continues to lash out and jump to erratic conclusions, he won't have to worry about driving people away — he already will have done that.

But the biggest trigger in this episode is when Harvey — callously, might I — mistakes Louis' loyalty to Mike and keeping the pro-bono case out of jealousy of Alex. Louis is visibly shaken and angered by this, and Harvey's insensitive remarks set him over the edge. I know the first few episodes have focused on Louis' emotional and mental instability in the wake of his break-up, but I think this is the first episode in which I've actually felt like it's not all Louis' fault. Harvey said something out-of-line with no remorse and while Harvey has done some bad things, callously dismissing Louis' emotions and Donna's opinions are not things I'm used to seeing.

Whatever the case, Louis has teetered from the edge of a psychotic break into a full-fledged one (or so it seems). Eesh. This cannot end well.

So far, this season of Suits has been disappointing. Harvey's acting wildly out-of-character in his personal and professional life, and I don't quite know why. Here's to hoping it can manage to get itself back on track soon.

And now, bonus points:
  • "Lawyer gets cocky, gives interview" is my favorite of Harvey's made up headlines for Mike's interview
  • Louis gives Alex a honeysuckle and for some reason, that's endearing.
  • Also, I love Dulé Hill on this show! I'm not a huge fan of Alex quite yet (but he managed to redeem himself a bit toward the end), but I like Dulé a lot so yay!

2 comments:

  1. I am enjoying Season 7! I think the journey that Harvey has been on and is still on is great television. I felt they would need to have him in a relationship this season to show he's grown intimacy wise. I imagined they might bring back Zoe but Paula Agard brings a much more interesting dynamic and conflict to the story. Without conflict, there is no story...without story, no Suits.

    It's no surprise that Harvey would want to be with Paula. The surprise is that Paula would allow a relationship to unfold, and that's where the story & conflict unfolds because it's going to be up to her to make things right. I absolutely cannot wait for Donna and Paula to end up in the same room this season. Aren't you all enjoying the stress and the angst?!

    It's interesting you mention that Harvey is insufferable. The person who makes me cringe every time when on screen now is Donna. I hate what they've done to her character, now she is just like Joan on Mad Men. They need to show her friendly & witty side again soon or people are going to forget why they liked her in the first place.

    As for Louis, I hope they tone down the drama with him. I want dominating Louis back. The way he fought with his therapist last episode made me wonder if he might end up becoming a patient of Dr Agard? That would be fun!

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  2. I tend to agree more with the comments above than your analysis - no offense meant, just trying to analyze. I think firstly that the episode is called Mudmare, not Mundane.

    In the timescale of the show, it has only been a few days since Mike got into the bar and can practice. Harvey is finally in a position to focus on the firm, and his first job was to get a team together. Hopefully the new team and he as the head settle down soon.

    Harvey has had a LOT to deal with and we have to remember that he barely gets a break between the various crises that come hurtling at him. He hasn't yet had time to process Jessica's departure and we must understand that that was one of the things that drove him to somehow get Mike back. He also has the unenviable task of establishing his position as the head of the firm, which must be especially harder with his colleagues, equals and those who have seen him for years. Jessica didn't have to fight for such things because she was the one who hired them all from a position of power.

    To me what is baffling is that everyone around Harvey acts as unstable and worse, quite cocky. Donna isn't herself, and her timing to focus on her own needs couldn't be worse. She did not even help Harvey move into his new office before she demanded a seat at the table. This is a dereliction of her normal self/duties, and uncharacteristic of her.

    Mike needs time to settle down to his position as a Senior partner and juggle his corporate and pro bono work, and of course savor his newfound freedom. Rachel is also adjusting to her new role.

    Louis, as you rightly pointed out, is in a terrible state - again so badly timed as far as the firm's and Harvey's needs are concerned. Alex is too new to comment upon, but Harvey has to help him adjust and rise up to the challenges.

    Considering all these, why wouldn't Harvey be overwhelmed? He not only has to find his feet and put the firm back on its feet, but he has to smooth out these many readjustments/transitions. I would cut him some slack and give a few more days to adjust to everything.

    As for Agard, I agree that it was totally unexpected, even weird. One would think that Harvey's choice would have been Donna - it would have been a no-brainer and made some of the transitions smooth. But Donna is the one who asks for the seat at the table rather than anything personal, so why blame Harvey for her choice? She drew the lines 12 years ago and Harvey has respected it all along. If the story moves differently and they get together I will of course be very happy. Scottie or Zoe would have been equally possible choices for Harvey to pursue and in fact he has left the Scottie relationship hanging when he asks in S5 if he can call her once everything is over. Other than the fact that Abigail Spencer (who plays Scottie) isn't available, I have no other explanation for this not being pursued.

    Agard, according to some men, seems like a natural choice (I see that only to the extent that Harvey isn't going to be a guy who will start with a woman who doesn't know/get him very well already). Given that Aaron Korsh is a guy, perhaps the story flows more naturally in this direction for him. At this point, I still don't see much build-up or chemistry there, but it has only been 3 episodes. If somehow Harvey learns to commit because of Agard and then ends up hooking up with Donna, Scottie or Zoe, that would be a good ending as far as I'm concerned. But truth be told, I don't want to hate Agard so much at this point and spoil the rest of the season for myself!

    I have a huge soft corner and a blind spot for Harvey - so I will wait and watch to see how he does. :)

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