Thursday, August 20, 2015

Suits 5x09 "Uninvited Guests" (Demanding A Seat At The Table)

"Uninvited Guests"
Original Airdate: August 19, 2015

About three-quarters of the way through last night’s Suits episode, I had an uninvited guest in my home that I had to deal with. Okay, granted, that guest was a cockroach and my 20-year old sister and I spent the better part of five minutes trying to spray it with Clorox and screaming when it fell close to us, but the point still stands. He was uninvited. And no one likes an uninvited guest into their homes, whether human or insect or animal. There’s an entire episode of How I Met Your Mother devoted to the frustration of throwing intimate parties and having them ruined by the presence of other peoples’ sure-to-be-irrelevant-in-a-few-weeks dates. We like being invited to things but we don’t like people inviting themselves without consulting us. We don’t like bugs that decide to make our homes theirs, and we definitely don’t like enemies and old rivals swooping into our house and demanding a seat at our table.

On Twitter, my friend and lovely follower Allison asked the question: “How many old foes are we bringing back? Sheesh.” And when I stepped back from this most recent Suits episode titled “Uninvited Guests” to really take count, I came up with six (Daniel Hardman, Sean Cahill – by name only, Charles Forstman, Tony Giannopoulos, Jonathan Sidwell, and Trevor.) Oddly enough, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by our recurring foes – I actually felt that they all tied in rather neatly to the episode’s theme at large. Because the truth is that each character serves as a sort of warning to all of our other characters at Pearson Specter Litt. Think of them as the six legal horsemen of the apocalypse. There was a seventh uninvited guest that appeared in Rachel’s life this week, and though this guest wasn’t a human being, it was just as powerful as one.

Jessica/Harvey/Mike (+ Louis)

Daniel Hardman is the kind of man whose patience is rather unsettling and irritating. I bemoaned his presence on my screen again. I loathe Hardman. Like... loathe. Like, the only fictional character I think I might like about as much as Hardman is Professor Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and if that doesn't say enough about his likability, I don't know what does. The thing that frustrates me most of all is that Suits often uses Hardman as an easy villain. He's the show's equivalent of a tattered high school t-shirt: no longer relevant, with no functional purpose, and constantly re-used rather than making the effort to find anything better. 

(My metaphor game is strong today, fair warning.)

And though I could see the purpose that Hardman filled in “Uninvited Guests,” I also don’t find him remotely compelling anymore. I find it irritating that he just wants to undermine Jessica at every turn and – much like Donna – want to slap the smirk off his smug face constantly. Doesn’t Hardman have anything else remotely interesting in his life? Like, get a hobby dude. Go do some yoga. Blackmail and revenge plots aren’t doing you any favors. Nevertheless, Hardman returned and the firm went to war to fight him. And they were also fighting against Jack, too. Jessica’s insistence that Daniel Hardman would never be let back into her firm was wonderful. I keep saying each week that Jessica Pearson is the queen of my heart and of the firm and it’s because it’s true. I may not always agree with the way she handles things (a bit coldly sometimes) and people, but when it comes down to it, Jessica is a leader. She’s always willing to protect herself and her family. The firm is that to her. It’s EVERYTHING to her. And when she feels it threatened, she does not hesitate to reach for her weapons.

Jessica, Mike, and Harvey spend a good chunk of the episode figuring out how to go to war against Hardman and Jack and win. What’s so interesting about Suits is that I feel like the firm is constantly under attack. (Probably because it is.) So often, the army at Pearson Specter Litt are fighting amongst themselves, though – Harvey and Louis are butting heads or Jack is trying to undermine someone or Mike isn’t being upfront with Harvey or Donna and Rachel are having a spat or Jessica is chastising Mike, etc. This team often fights more amongst themselves than they do any external enemy. But what Louis always says is quite true: when it comes down to it, they’re a family. And they will do whatever it takes – together – to put down their oppressor. So when Hardman tries to rattle Louis or Harvey by bringing up Donna in this episode, it’s like “hey dude, you’re about two weeks too late on that front.” Though Harvey and Louis’ relationship isn’t perfect by any means, they fought weeks ago so they would be prepared for this week. They battled each other so their bond would be stronger when they fought Hardman.

There’s a few snafus in “Uninvited Guests,” though that Harvey and Jessica don’t foresee, chief among them is the fact that Daniel Hardman is a patient snake, lying in the grass and waiting to strike at someone’s heel. He’s not dominated by chaos. He actually enjoys waiting to enact his revenge. Again, dude, get a hobby. Try fly-fishing or painting or maybe puzzles. Puzzles are good. Before Jessica and Harvey learn, with horror, that Hardman had the upper hand on them and has been plotting for weeks, we got the chance to see Harvey and Mike play cat-and-mouse with Hardman through leveraging their own former enemies against him.

There’s a scene where Harvey sits down across from Jonathan Sidwell and Mike from Tony Giannopoulos and convince them to make a deal. Mike said that his plan was counting on their hatred of one another and really, it was brilliant (as was the directing of the scene). Sidwell and Gillis do hate one another, but there’s also this weird sort of respect that they have for Harvey and Mike for being able to play them both and for being able to do it so smugly. While Daniel Hardman is an uninvited guest in the firm, Harvey and Mike purposefully place themselves back into the “uninvited guest” territory with their enemies in order to defeat a larger enemy. That’s the essence of war.

Unfortunately, this tactic doesn’t work out well for Harvey when he confronts Charles Forstman at the end of the episode. Forstman, unlike Sidwell and Gillis, is pretty much the devil. He’s the only man who has more concentrated evil and selfishness in him than Daniel Hardman. And when Harvey realizes that the only way they’re going to be able to save the firm and get Charles Forstman to stop backing Hardman is if he cripples himself and falls at the feet of Forstman by resigning… well, the abject horror in Harvey’s face says it all, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, Louis spends most of the episode trying to determine why Jack is siding with Daniel Hardman and learns that Jack fell into the same bear trap that he did years ago – Jack partnered with Hardman, tried to back out of that, and was blackmailed back in. Hardman is like an evil black hole, constantly pulling you back toward him and never really letting you go. Louis – blessed Louis – feels like he can get Jack to turn on Hardman, but it’s clear that Jack is pretty hopeless. Whatever Hardman has on him must be really important and there’s no way Jack is going to sacrifice himself (and possibly someone else) at this point for the sake of Pearson Specter Litt. It’s a sad moral lesson for Jack, though: don’t sell your soul to Hardman, because you’ll probably never get it back.


Rachel (+ Mama Zane)

Rachel’s been dealing with an uninvited guest for a few weeks now in the form of Mike’s secret. When she tearfully begged Claire to not tell anyone, I rather felt for Rachel. When Mama Zane shows Rachel a draft of the potential wedding announcement for the Times, Rachel begins to panic, obviously. The whole not-drawing-attention-to-Mike-or-his-secret thing has been solely on Rachel these last few weeks. And now, with the wedding, it’s proving to be even more difficult to keep Mike off the radar. (Especially true when Mama Zane wants to invite the dean of Harvard to her wedding.) Rachel approaches Donna for advice, and Donna’s well-meaning but probably bad wisdom is to just lie to her mom. Lie and when they have spats, make it about the wedding. Mama Zane will never suspect she’s trying to hide anything about Mike if she just makes it all about the wedding size itself.

So Rachel tries to do this – again, carrying the weight of Mike’s secret by herself. What I really don’t get though is why Mike and Rachel think that this is even remotely a plausible life for them to lead. We saw Claire confront Mike and we see (as the episode opens) that he’s still replaying her words in his head. Honestly, if Mike and Rachel loved each other at all, they would probably (in my opinion at least) not be getting married or Mike would be quitting working at Pearson Specter Litt. Mike’s secret was the foundation of Suits and the series began with so few people knowing it that every episode was like adding snow to a snowball and sliding it gently down a hill. Now, however, five years later, everyone who is a key player in the show at the firm knows Mike’s secret. That is making it more and more difficult for the writers to contain their little snowball while still making the secret a source of conflict. Eventually, it’s going to become implausible that few people know, but other important players do not. Mike’s secret used to be at the forefront of this show but now it has – thankfully – evolved into something much better and bigger than that lie.

The question then, is: how do you continue to make the main character of your show interesting and redeemable when he’s now roped more and more people into his lie? There was another USA show called Psych that pretty much asked that same question. The premise: a man who is extremely observant pretends to be a psychic in order to get out of trouble and ends up being hired as a consultant for the Santa Barbara Police Department. When Psych begins, few people know his secret – his father, and his best friend Gus – and as the series developed, Shawn’s secret was always still in play. But the circle of people who knew he wasn’t psychic fundamentally did not change (with the exception of adding Juliet). That’s why Psych worked for so long, I think. Apart from growing as a series to be about more than just Shawn’s secret, the circle of trust was kept pretty limited. In Suits, that isn’t the case. The circle has really widened over the years and though that’s logical, it’s also problematic from a writing standpoint in some ways.

Back to the B-story, though: Rachel lies to her mother and Mama Zane knows something else is wrong, so she meets with Mike privately and requests that he put aside his issues and allow Rachel to have a big wedding like she’s always dreamed of. When Mike – blindsided, of course by the fact that Rachel has been lying to cover for his secret – confronts Rachel about this, she pretty much says what she really thinks: he is the one keeping her from her dream wedding. She says she doesn’t mean it and Mike says he doesn’t have doubts about marrying her but… do WE believe that? (I don’t.) I think Rachel saw last week how she will be tethered to Mike for the rest of her life. And while she loves him and absolutely adores him and wants to be with him forever… this also means she’s tethered to his secret forever. It’s like an ankle weight, noisily dragging around behind him wherever they go. And Rachel is always going to be the one following behind, carrying it.

Mike, though he says has no doubts about marrying Rachel, got a tiny glimpse into how she will have to continually lie for him for the rest of their lives as long as his secret exists. He loves her and he doesn’t want to break up with her, but he also doesn’t want her to bear that burden. Whoops, buddy. She was better NOT knowing your secret. Seriously. At the end of the episode, Trevor and Mike meet up at a bar and talk about their lives. Mike is expressing excitement about getting married and Trevor – looking older and a tad bit wiser – warns Mike of something: he needs to get out of the dangerous game he’s playing. Because the longer he lives his lie, the duller it becomes. And the more problematic it will become for people like Rachel to live with. It’s good advice, which clearly means Mike and Rachel will not take it.

“Uninvited Guests” focused a lot on what happens when we experience these people or things in our lives – how do we handle the unexpected? Do we staunchly defend our own and band together as a team? Do we try to fix problems ourselves through lying and manipulation? And what happens when, at the end of the day, our unexpected guests turn out to be a bit too permanent for our liking?

And now, bonus points:
  • MVP for this episode is, of course, Gina Torres. She did an amazing job during her cold open in the boardroom where she vehemently declared that Daniel Hardman would not be let back into the firm under any circumstances. I think at that point, I literally said: “Oh snap” at my screen. But what I really love about Gina is how she can convey everything with just a simple look. When Jack confronts her at the end of the episode about the vote, her smirk at him and challenging glare says it all. … Until he walks out of the room. Then, and only then, do we see Jessica’s face crease into one of worry and slight fear. All hail Gina Torres for her amazing portrayal of this woman and leader.
  • “How long has it been since I slapped you in the face? Because that’s ALL I can think about right now.” And in that moment, I swear we were all Donna Paulsen.
  • “Let me tell you, Jack… when the dust settles, I’m gonna be the one recommending they throw you out.” Careful, Mike. Them be fighting words.
  • “This IS a standing desk. For someone of your height.” Would you like some aloe for that burn, Hardman?
  • “Oh, what’s he gonna do? Make him less on our side?”
  • Louis suggesting that Jack’s name could easily be put up on the door was hilarious to me, for some reason. Like… what about business cards, Louis? What about phone call greetings? HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU THINK IT IS LOGICAL FOR A FIRM TO CHANGE NAMES? One day, the firm’s wall is just going to read: ____ ______ & _______, with LITERAL giant blank lines so you can just write on duct tape and hang it over the spaces as needed. Honestly, I think they should really just invest in that.
  • “And I have better things to do with my time than be spoken to that way.” ALL THE APPLAUSE FOR DONNA PAULSEN, PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
  • “Aaaaaaand now I don’t even want my Egg McMuffin.”
  • I still hate Mike’s hair. Please to not keep styling it that way.
  • “I have a cell phone?”
  • “I’m saying I need to go see a guy about a thing.”
  • “You are the one taking away my dream wedding.”
  • Do we think Trevor and Jenny are married?
  • “… Come to Jesus.” GLORY BE TO JESSICA PEARSON.
Next week is the midseason finale of Suits! Can you believe it? What do you think will happen? Will Jessica be voted out? Will Harvey resign? Will Mike finally do something about his god-awful hair? Will Donna get to slap Hardman one more time? Hit up the comments below and let us know your thoughts about this episode and next week’s “Faith”! Until then. :)


  1. Great review as always!

    This episode was a really good pre-midseason finale episode, it has set up the next installment wonderfully I SERIOUSLY CANNOT WAIT! Really good storylines to deliver on.

    I have to disagree on one thing though: I LOVE Daniel Hardman. Or at least I loved him in season 2. I'm still waiting to see what he does in this season because he's barely gotten started I think. And I have to agree on the point that this man needs to find a hobby and get over this firm. It's insane that after all this time he's still obsessed with coming back to this firm rather than just going to and staying with another perfectly good one.

    I find it kind of insulting almost that there's no Harvey-Donna scene at all in this episode. Like wth guys. That's a very important facet of the show. And I'm not even asking for a lot, but it bothers me that these two have become sooo comfortable with this new place. I they not miss each other at all? Despite having Gretchen, who is pretty awesome, doesn't Harvey miss having Donna around all the time? Is he 100% cool with this new arrangement now that he understands why she did it? I don't think he's completely fine with this. And all I want is a scene with them having some light banter and then it suddenly gets serious and they're staring into each other's eyes and Harvey says, "I miss you." That is all. Is it really too much to ask for?

    I LOVE the bit with Harvey and Mike and Sidwell and Gianopolous (psst the guy Mike goes to see isn't Walter Gillis, it's Tony Gianopolous =P (I don't think I'm spelling that correctly)) They are so badass. Harvey has taught Mike so much =")

    I really like that they're finally having Mike question whether he should continue down this path. I mean they did that in season 3, but this time it's in context to his relationship with Rachel. Trevor's speech was perfect IMO and it really shows that Mike is only doing this for the high. It's what he and Harvey have in common.
    "Life is _. I like --." They like high stakes. They like the thrill. They chase it. But now Mike has to decide what's more important to him: the thrill of doing what he's always wanted without having the degree, or his life with Rachel.

    Ugh, agreed, Rachel really needs to stop crying. (It doesn't help that she's an ugly crier anyway)

    Jack Soloff is literally Louis 2.0. Couldn't the writers come up with anything else? I mean why is that the only possible motivation for anything the partners do? Why couldn't his motivation be something outside the firm? I don't even know what that could be but...come on.

    Jessica was flawless. Nuff said.

  2. Donna and Rachel scenes! FINALLY! I mean we had a scene in the premier where Donna says she wants Rachel to keep her updated on life and after that the first update she gets from Rachel herself is the second last episode. Nice.

    Speaking of Donna, hell yes I need her to slap Hardman again, yes please. I have a strange love for the way Hardman acted like he wanted it to. I like that he's so disgustingly evil. I'm not even sorry.

    I love the first scene where Louis and Harvey finally put the bullshit of last episode to bed and then immediately join forces against Jack Soloff right at the conference room table. I love the looks they're both giving him. Like they JUST got over their own shit, probably still stinging from it, but wait that's not important anymore because Jack is being an asshat. If those two were staring at me that way, I'd be scared. Very scared.

    Charles Forstmannnn! I have been dreaming of these two teaming up since end of season 4 and now it's happened! My only fear is that the writers will screw up with this perfectly evil duo and make them look like pansies. I'm sorry but if these two are teaming up, they better last more than a couple episodes. I hope they're still around in January, otherwise this will be the biggest waste of villainous characters in the history of the show.

    So...Mike and Harvey need to decide if they're going to resign and Jessica might be forced out. DAMN this looks bad. But only one could really be on their way out next episode (temporarily, of course) so who do you think it'll be? What if the promo is misleading (not so hard to believe) and actually none of these guys leave and instead something happens to Jack? Promo says "It's all over...for someone". Doesn't necessarily mean one of the three we have our eyes on.

    (Btw a guilty fantasy I've always had: Forstman is always trying to hurt Harvey by going after who/what he cares about most right? Well I want him to find out about Donna...*crazed smile*)

  3. I was impressed with the writers using Trevor to point out to Mike what a stupid thing he is actually doing. I mean, if a total loser like Trevor has to point out you're making a mistake, you've got big problems.

    The Donna and Rachel scenes are strange now. It's like there is this underlying animosity between them.

    In the scene with Harvey and Forstman, I was totally distracted by Gabriel's face being around the wrong way! How did that get through all the people at USA who must review/edit the show?! Poor effort, team.

    It seems like Harvey will resign...I wonder if he can get Jessica to waive his non-compete clause first, so he can practice in New York on his own. Is PSL paying for Rachel's law school? It would be interesting if she would go work with Harvey if he left.

    I am a bit bored with Hardman coming back but I do like the snarky Jessica he brings out.

    Overall probably the weakest episode this season. I want Esther back! Those episodes were fun.

    1. The Donna and Rachel scenes are strange now. It's like there is this underlying animosity between them.

      I feel that way too, but also I feel like Rachel is ALWAYS very short-tempered with Donna. She like, never takes her advice. It's one of the many reasons I find her to be whiny and grating, lol.

      It seems like Harvey will resign...I wonder if he can get Jessica to waive his non-compete clause first, so he can practice in New York on his own. Is PSL paying for Rachel's law school? It would be interesting if she would go work with Harvey if he left.

      I feel like Harvey will resign because I cannot see the show losing Jessica and Harvey at the same time. There's no way they would both leave because then the rest of the characters would have to follow them. It'll be interesting if Harvey leaves though, what Mike will do -- if he'll go because if he stays at Pearson Specter Litt, he'll likely be found out a LOT quicker and won't have Harvey to back him up? And yup, PSL is paying Rachel's way through school so I doubt she'll leave there no matter if Harvey does or not.

      I am a bit bored with Hardman coming back but I do like the snarky Jessica he brings out.

      100000000% agreed there.

      I concur that this was kind of a weak episode, but you're TOTALLY right in the fact that they brought Trevor back smartly. I mean, I still want to punch him in his stupidly smug face much like Tanner, but I'm glad they used a character like that to really drive home the point. Will Mike listen? NOOOOO. But it was good on Trevor to man up and try.