Thursday, August 21, 2014

Suits 4x10 "This Is Rome" (And We Are Gladiators)

"This Is Rome"
Original Airdate: August 20, 2014

When I was in high school, I watched Gladiator for the first time. I was intrigued by Rome’s history and culture and the history, in particular, of the Colosseum. I had the opportunity to visit Italy and the Colosseum a few years ago. It was the hottest day of our trip – 105 degrees – as we toured the massive structure that used to house gladiator fights. If you think you know what it feels like to be inside of that arena, about how vast and large and intimidating it is compared to how small and weak you are, multiply that feeling by twenty. Then and only then will you come close to feeling what I felt in that space. Gladiators were fighters – they were resilient and fearless and when everyone was yelling insults at them, when the animals they were fighting against bared their teeth, the gladiators did not back down.

Louis declares that he is a gladiator in “This Is Rome,” Suits’ midseason finale. And though Louis has been pretty great in the past few weeks, I doubt that I would ever have classified his behavior as gladiator-like until this episode. Louis is intelligent but he often lacks the ruthlessness that is required of those who fight on the front lines. … Until this episode, however. Do you know what drives people to madness, to bitterness, and to ruthless ambition alike? Desperation. It takes Louis literally losing everything he cares about to awaken that animalistic fight within him that a gladiator does. And what happens at the end of the episode is explosive, to say the least. But it’s important to note that nearly everyone in “This Is Rome” is fighting for something and the majority of them are fighting for, not against, Louis Litt. That proves to be a mistake at the end of the episode as we will see.

Armed with that knowledge, let’s discuss the episode a bit, shall we?


Throughout the majority of “This Is Rome,” Louis Litt has an ember of fight left in him. He cannot find a job in the city because the Pearson Specter bylaws prohibit him (and Jessica Pearson herself prevents him) from taking clients with him. Louis begins the episode humbled and asking for Harvey’s help: he only wants three inconsequential clients, just enough to get him into the doors of other firms. Harvey agrees to try his best to convince Jessica but that does not work. When Louis begins to see everything around him crumbling – when he tries to regain Shelia’s trust and relationship, when he cannot even get an interview or a prospect of a job, when Mike delivers him a box of his things from the office – he resorts to desperation.

Louis steals a client not of his, but of Harvey’s, and that is what utterly infuriates the latter but invigorates the former. Louis Litt loves the feeling of power because he’s deprived of it so often. Whenever he gets the tiniest taste of it, then, he is unable to properly utilize it. Here’s a friendly reminder: all Louis ever wanted from Jessica and Harvey was respect. Not pity, not remorse, but actual respect. Harvey and Louis have always fought like brothers and the former references the two being very much like family in this episode. But Jessica has always treated Louis more harshly and has distanced herself from him and his personality quirks. For a strong woman, I think that Jessica is bewildered by Louis’ emotional nature; I think she often sees him not as an equal but as a lesser person and lawyer because of it. And that is her problem to deal with and her cross to bear when it all blows up in her face.

But since Louis seeks and cannot find respect within the confines of his own family, his next logical move is to become the kind of fighter that Jessica and Harvey would have wanted on their team. There’s only one problem, of course, and that is this: he is no longer on their team. Gone are the days when Louis Litt revered and cherished Pearson Specter as his home and his family. He has been evicted from the home (though he left voluntarily, he would have been fired had he not) and is now concerned with what gladiators are: self-preservation. Their only thought is to survive and much like a gladiator, Louis finds himself being circled by obstacles and people who could potentially hurt him at every turn. When he steals Harvey’s client (who Pearson Specter was going to have to drop anyway), it’s only short-lived, as the client eventually is bought out by Walter Gillis and Louis is back to rock bottom. But in that timeframe, Katrina – who has become one of the most endearing and loyal characters on this show – proves herself to Louis by aligning herself with him even though she, too, could lose everything.

Katrina doesn’t just wax poetic about loyalty; she is fully and completely committed to Louis. She wants him to be proud of her, sure, but I think that wholehearted loyalty is just a facet of Katrina’s character. And Louis, instead of being mad at Katrina for following Jessica’s orders in preventing him from obtaining clients, is glad that she was the one to do the deed. He respects her and genuinely cares about her, especially when she puts herself on the line for him and ends up losing her job at Pearson Specter because of it.

Bear in mind the theme of desperation, would you? Desperate people aren’t desperate until they are; maddened people are not driven mad… until they are. Louis was valiant for the majority of “This Is Rome.” He was uncharacteristically take-charge and then he was smacked down repeatedly by the hand that exiled him. He became despairing. He became depressed. He became DESPERATE and mad. If you watch superhero movies or read comic books, you’ll know that the majority of villains are created not from strength but from loss. Think about Loki. Think about Slade Wilson. Think about all of the people whose hearts were darkened and hardened because of the loss of their pride or a loved one or the loss of respect. That darkness is spawned by one tiny seed that they latched onto and let fester and grow. Louis Litt is at his lowest in “This Is Rome” and in that darkness and desperation, he comes to a terrifying realization and latches onto that rope like his life depends on it.


The rest of the midseason finale sees Harvey, Donna, and Mike trying their best to help Louis when Jessica refuses to. Harvey gets Louis a job interview – twice – which Louis blows… twice. Harvey isn’t expressing pity for Louis as he explains to him in the episode. He’s expressing compassion, something that he rarely ever does. At the end of the day, Harvey may pick on and insult Louis; he may yell and scream at him and occasionally belittle him. But Harvey still thinks of Louis as family and families help each other. Similarly, Donna tries her best to meet Louis where he’s at. She’s the reason he goes to see Shelia in Boston (which blows up in his face, sadly).

Donna’s relationship with Louis and their journey has been one of the most satisfying elements of Suits this season. In the course of ten episodes, I’ve found myself deeply attached to their friendship, to their understanding of each other. Donna has told Louis things that no one else knows and vice versa. Their friendship was based on mutual trust and understanding. Donna will never be like Louis and he will never be like her – their personalities are similar in ways but vastly different in the majority of others – but that’s okay: they GOT each other. They had each other’s backs. They were vulnerable with each other. And that’s what makes the final scene between them in this midseason finale so gut-wrenching.

You see, Louis finds out that Mike was never a Harvard graduate and that he is, in fact, a fraud. He finds this out, unfortunately, when Mike is doing his very best to be there for Louis. I thought it wonderful and mature of Mike to express so much care for and concern over Louis. He felt a very accurate sense of responsibility for his resignation. Louis sacrificed his own desires for Mike’s and Mike, in turn, feels like he owes Louis a lot more for that than he could ever express. So he volunteers to drop off the contents of Louis’ office to the man at his home and this act of kindness and selflessness ends up being Mike’s very undoing and Louis’ moment of gladiator-like brutality.


Louis discovers that Donna has been in cahoots with Harvey and Jessica, lying to him from the beginning about Mike Ross. Louis Litt has hit rock bottom at this point in the episode’s end. He’s lost the love of his life for the second time, he’s lost his job and credibility, he’s lost the only shreds of respect he had, and he’s now lost the trust of people he considered to be his family. Louis has nothing and nothingness is what causes normal people to do desperate things. So he angrily confronts Donna about her participation in this betrayal and it’s kind of terrifying if I’m being honest. People who have nothing to lose are downright scary and when Louis manages to rattle Donna – who is rarely ever rattled – by scaring her and bringing her to tears, you know that things are serious. And you also know that this is probably a point of no return not just for the character of Louis but for Louis and Donna’s friendship.

Even if – by some small miracle – these two manage to reconcile down the road, there is no turning back from what Louis has done and become in “This Is Rome.”


Louis leaves Donna to confront Jessica. I use the word “confront” loosely because I’m certain that what he intends to do is much more brutal than that. He wants to see Jessica beg for mercy; he wants to see her squirm. Donna warns Jessica seconds before the confrontation and the head of Pearson Specter faces her opponent with cold, calculated grace. She is unsettled a few times in the confrontation because of how desperate Louis is – by how he roars at her that she is a liar and a hypocrite and must apologize for the way she has betrayed him.

I have to commend whoever decided to block this scene because it is done SO beautifully. When the scene begins, Jessica is standing tall, facing her opponent with all the strength and stubbornness that makes Jessica Pearson who she is as a leader, what makes her FEARED. And then… Louis begins to roar in her face, cut her down, and – quite frankly – scare her. She slowly sinks into her chair as she repeats the three-fold apology he requested of her: she notes that she is a liar and a hypocrite. But then, just when we believe that Louis has won, has finally become a ruthless gladiator capable of decimating someone in the name of retribution and equality, something happens. Jessica stands up. She will not apologize to Louis for keeping a secret from him. In keeping that secret, she was protecting them all: their family.

It is then that we are reminded that even though Louis is ruthless, he’s not going to send Jessica to prison. He wants to be around to watch her suffer and squirm, which is a probably worse punishment than sending her to jail if you really think about it. No, what he wants is to see his name on that wall and he knows now that he has the leverage to make that possible.

If this really is Rome, I’m preparing myself for bloodbaths come winter.

And now, bonus points:
  • Rick Hoffman was MVP of this episode by a mile. I was legitimately terrified for Donna during their confrontation scene and his stand-off with Jessica should win him some serious awards, if not a Performer of the Week nod from TVLine at the very least.
  • “They’re in Cincinnati which is American for Siberia.”
  • “You wanna make a splash? Part the Red Sea.”
  • “Is there anything that you can’t do?” “No, there isn’t.” Donna Paulsen for the win, y’all.
  • “When it comes to caring about people, he’s twice the man that I am.” See, Harvey’s growth is so delightful everyone. He openly admitted that caring about other people is a strength, not a weakness. (Even though he and Mike joke about that later on in the episode.)
  • “I may fight with him, but he’s still my family.”
  • “What are you, the bathroom monitor?”
  • “I’m glad you finally took the plunge.” Mike knows that Harvey/Donna needs to happen and this moment was hilarious because of his feigned excitement over it.
  • You’ll notice I didn’t talk about Rachel in this review, but that’s because she was absent most of the finale.
  • Everything went KABOOM in the final minutes, which was good because overall I found “This Is Rome” to be kind of a slow midseason finale.
Suits fans, thanks so much for reading all of my reviews for the first half of this season! I’ll return when Suits does and I look forward to all of the drama and metaphorical (or real, for all I know) bloodshed this winter. Until then, folks! :)


  1. I've read all the Suits mid-season finale reviews. This is the best one. Looking forward to returning to this site come Winter.

    1. Thank you so much for reading and the compliments! Enjoy the hiatus and I'll see you back here again this winter. ;)