Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Suits 4x01 "One-Two-Three-Go..." (It's Time For A Knife Fight)

Original Airdate: June 11, 2014

The hinge that Suits swings on is a rather complex one. This has always been a show that has revolved, simultaneously, around relationships, lies, drama, and – perhaps most importantly – the notion of loyalty. Harvey Specter and Mike Ross have always had that aspect of their relationship tested. But, like a good 90s sitcom, normally by the end of an episode, the two have resolved their tension and made amends. The reason they’ve managed to resolve their differences in the past is because they’ve been fighting on the same side of the line. But the surprising and (quite frankly refreshing) shake-up that this series presented us with during the season three finale was that of extracting Mike from beneath Harvey’s wing at Pearson Specter and tossing him into the world of finance. The hidden game of cat-and-mouse grew too much for Mike: he knew that someone was bound to discover the fact that he never attended Harvard and was therefore not a real, licensed lawyer sooner or later. He had a future with Rachel to think about and that changed the game for him. So instead of risking being uncovered, he found a way to get out of the game altogether. It was a smart and strategic move but also one that now affords endless possibilities for Mike and Harvey to grow and clash, as the episode begins with Mike as a client and ends with him firing his former firm. Ouch.

“One-Two-Three Go…” is an episode that finds everyone within and outside of the walls of Pearson Specter adjusting to new roles and new people and it’s uncomfortable. Harvey struggles to adjust to the fact that Mike is a potential client and despite their closeness for four years, he cannot dismiss Mike’s ideas as he would normally at the firm. Harvey and Mike must construct a new relationship which is something neither is fond of (but Harvey less so). It doesn’t go well. When Harvey sends Mike a clear message through Rachel, he wordlessly expresses the fact that he doesn’t take Mike or his ideas seriously. At all. And Donna – all-knowing and wise Donna – warns Harvey that if he doesn’t treat Mike with some semblance of respect, everything will backfire. Everything DOES backfire, and quickly. Between Harvey’s ego and Mike’s hard determination-turned-pride to prove himself to his new boss, these two remain at odds throughout most of the episode. And, to be frank, I thought it was actually pretty delightful to not see Mike as Harvey’s footstool or his afterthought but to force Harvey to view his protégé as a real, actual threat.

You see, Harvey sees no one as a threat. Harvey Specter is not easily intimidated and he’s certainly not going to let Mike Ross be the one to intimidate him. But Mike doesn’t want to intimidate – he just wants to be viewed as an equal, as Harvey would view any other client. This provides for an interesting shift in the Harvey/Mike dynamic. There is no doubt that Harvey cares about Mike. He cares about Mike more than he’s willing to admit. But this is still Harvey we’re talking about, and it is safer for him to dismiss Mike, pat him on the head, and send him on his way than to admit that Mike is not an equal, not someone splashing around in a kiddie pool. Ego and pride are what wedged themselves between the two during the season four premiere and though conflict is good, Mike’s go-for-the-jugular lawyer tactics eventually (and inadvertently) backfire on him as they force Harvey into an inextricable corner. And Harvey’s pride and unwillingness to give thought to Mike’s ideas drives the former lawyer to utilize these tactics in the first place.

The new Harvey/Mike dynamic is something that I’m immensely looking forward to. It’s fun when the two banter, trade movie and sports references, and come to each other’s aid like mighty superheroes. But, if we’re honest, that type of relationship grows stale and boring; there are only so times that you can invent or re-hash the kind of conflict that exists within the confines of the firm between these two, and I’m excited to see Harvey and Mike at odds OUTSIDE of their natural habitat, as it were. I also look forward to their new work relationship causing tension in their personal one. I’m interested to see how Rachel factors into this (as Mike says that she will not come between him and Harvey but pffft we all know THAT isn’t true). Conflict is good. But fresh, new, uncharted conflict is better.

Speaking of conflict, not everyone at Pearson Specter is having a sunshine-and-rainbows day in “One-Two-Three Go…” as we are introduced to a new character who enters the firm with guns blazing. His name is Jeff Malone, he’s an SEC prosecutor, and he wants a job. Oh, and if he doesn’t get the job, he’ll be coming after them just as he was about to be assigned to do. There’s one tiny (see: large) wrinkle in the hiring of this prosecutor: he’s also hooking up with Jessica on the side. I love that we’ll get to see the business AND pleasure side of Jessica this year, if the season premiere is any indication. Jessica Pearson is one of the most savvy, resilient, dedicated, and tough women in the fictional world of Pearson Specter and yet, this often leads me to forget that she has things like wants and needs and EMOTIONS. Jessica feels things for people and this doesn’t evaporate, even though she is married to and in love with her firm.

What will be interesting about this season is seeing how Jessica’s relationship with Jeff will evolve or dissolve. She made a decision, mid-way through the episode, that she would hire Jeff but would have to end their fling because she’s seen what happens to relationships within the office and there is no way that she will let a fling or relationship or romance of any kind destroy the very thing she has sacrificed and fought valiantly to keep. People are important to Jessica and relationships are important. She – and every other character on Suits – needs other people in her life; she cannot sustain herself on her relationship with the firm. But will Jessica take a risk on romance if it means any aspect, no matter how small, of her business is in jeopardy? I suppose that we will find out throughout this season, and I’m interested to see how Jessica is affected by it all.

And then there is Louis Litt. Louis and Katrina (I like Katrina a lot more this season, I cannot lie) are determined to make Louis shine. In recent seasons, I’ve started feeling more empathy toward Louis, to be honest. When the show first began, I viewed him as a Peter Pettigrew-esque employee: he would be devoted to you and pledge his allegiance, as long as nothing better came along. Once or if that happened, he would drop you and move on. But as the show progressed, we were allowed glimpses of a more vulnerable Louis – we saw him fight to keep a cat and fight to keep Mike and fight to keep Shelia, and all of that just broke my heart but didn’t break Louis. If nothing else, Louis is persistent. He doesn’t just want to be noticed, though (which is what I think he wanted the first two seasons and, much like a toddler, would get that attention at any cost even if it meant negative attention). I think that all Louis wants is the opportunity to prove that he is valuable. If he can do that – if he can convince Jessica and Harvey that they need him – then he will earn their respect. And when he earns their respect, he will earn their trust.

I think that Harvey has come a long way in terms of his treatment of Louis. He’s gone from loathing the man to respecting him and actually asking him for help. Louis wants to be needed. He NEEDS to be needed and I believe that if he gains that this season, he’ll be confident and unstoppable (in the best way). Speaking of confident and unstoppable, my favorite redhead on television was back in the season premiere as well. Donna Paulsen made her triumphant return in “One-Two-Three Go…” in the only way we know Donna to make an entrance: by being fabulous and being right. Donna as a character never fails to fascinate me. She is the only character that everyone goes to for advice (Mike, Rachel, Louis, Harvey, etc.), and she’s the only person who shoots straight. Yes, she is sassy and yes she is delightful and witty, but Donna is the person that you need in your life when you’re about to make a bad decision because she will forcefully push you back from the ledge. And if you refuse to heed her warning – like Harvey did in the episode – she will be patient and wait for you to return, realizing your error.

Donna is the character that everyone needs. She’s the glue that holds Mike and Harvey together; she’s the balance between the tough, business-minded Jessica and the driven-too-much-by-emotion-sometimes Rachel. She is smart, but straightforward. She is wise but will also let you fall on your face in order to be taught a lesson. In summary, Donna Paulsen’s season four return reminded me of why I love her so much. I cannot wait to see what the season has in store for her as a character.

Suits’ fourth season is off with a bang – we’re going to see Mike and Harvey smack each other down in courtrooms and offices and board rooms throughout the course of the season, I am sure. We’ll see how Mike and Rachel’s relationship is impacted by his and Harvey’s new one. We’ll watch as Pearson Specter expands and develops new clients and new conflicts along the way. This is the year of change for the series and for the characters. How these characters handle change will say a lot about them and a lot about their true motives. I, for one, am excited to be along for the journey.

And now, bonus points:
  • Welcome to my first Suits review! Be sure to stick around because I’ll be here all summer.
  • “I prefer to appear the exact moment I’m needed.”
  • Mike’s new assistant seems cool, albeit a bit Donna Paulsen-esque. It’s like Donna 2.0.
  • “See? That’s funny because I was late from all the sex.”
  • “I’m going after a whale.” “I think I’m in love. Let’s go to war.”
  • There were two nods to The Princess Bride during a Harvey/Mike conversation. See if you can locate them!
  • “Did he say FITTER?”
  • “Louis… winter is coming.”
  • “Nobody likes a gloater, Donna.” “Well then I guess the Harvey Specter School of Gloating will have to shut down.” “I can still give lectures on the weekends.”

1 comment:

  1. Nice review! I did catch the Princess Bride reference as I have been using the film to teach my 7th graders about healthy and unhealthy relationships this week.