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'Suits' recap: 'Mea Culpa'

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Ian Watson/USA Network

Suits

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-14
seasons:
5
run date:
06/23/11
performer:
Gabriel Macht, Patrick J. Adams, Meghan Markle
broadcaster:
USA Network
genre:
Comedy, Drama

Tonight’s Suits may be one of my favorite episodes of the season. “Mea Culpa” clarified one of season 5’s themes by re-framing Mike’s secret, which is surprising given that’s the weakest part of the show. This made me start to think about Suits’ endgame and what a series finale might look like (more on this later). And, this episode convinced me that if there’s one USA Network actor who deserves an Emmy/EWwy nomination who isn’t Mr. Robot‘s Rami Maleck, it’s the scene-stealing Gina Torres.

This week, a blast from the past in the form of Troian Bellisario—a.k.a. heir to the NCIS kingdom, a.k.a. Patrick J. Adams’ fiancée, a.k.a. Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars—causes Mike to contemplate his multitude of sins and wickedness and creates some drama in his and Rachel’s relationship, which has been cruising along smoothly for most of this season. Meanwhile, Jessica does damage control in the wake of Harvey-Louis altercation that capped last week’s outing.

We pick up almost immediately where last week’s episode left off. A bloodied and swollen Louis is pissed off about what happened in Harvey’s office and is ready to unleash the hounds of hell on him, a.k.a. suing Harvey for assault and battery. Donna tries to talk him off the ledge because “families keep things like this in the family.” Unfortunately, Louis misinterprets that’s advice.

Jessica immediately goes into damage control mode. In a “throw tequilla and eggs in someone’s face” kind of mood, she pays Harvey a visit at home and gives him strict orders: (1) apologize to Louis and admit he was 100 percent wrong, and (2) take a two-week vacation to give Louis some time to cool down and avoid him demanding Harvey be suspended for three months. Also, Jack Soloff knows what happened between Harvey and Louis, so Jessica also has to deal with that. It’s a busy night for her.

Per Jessica’s orders in last week’s episode, Mike is trying to come up with a reason for turning down his junior partnership nomination that he’ll be able to convincingly sell the partners on. With the Harvey-Louis situation and Jack breathing down her neck, Jessica decides to allow Mike to accept the nomination and become the youngest partner in the firm’s history. In line with the firm’s tradition, Jessica presents Mike with his first case as junior partner, and Mike’s first move is to bring Rachel onboard as his associate. Unfortunately for him, a seemingly simple case becomes rather complicated when Mike finds out that the opposing lawyer is Claire (Troian Bellisario)*. Mike can’t meet with her because she knows his secret, so he sends Rachel in by herself, and that goes about as well as you’d expect. In a way, it’s funny because neither Mike nor Rachel is a real lawyer.

*(#WayBackWednesday to last season’s flashback episode: Six years ago, Mike, working as a bike messenger, asks out Claire, who at the time was in law school and working for a non-profit. He lied to her about being in law school to get a date with her, but she found out and dumped him.)*

Rachel is very anxious after meeting because she lied and said that the Mike Ross listed as the Pearson Specter Litt partner on the documents isn’t the same Mike Ross that Claire went out with once. This is another instance in which a man on Suits has put a female on this show in a position to lie for him, and while it’s not pretty, it’s an interesting avenue of exploration. Up until now, this theme has been confined to Harvey’s treatment of Jessica and Donna. Rachel is annoyed about having to lie for him, but she’s upset because she can tell why Mike was attracted to Claire. Now Rachel’s wondering: if Claire hadn’t uncovered Mike’s secret until a year into dating, would they still be together? Is Claire Mike’s soul mate? (Answer: No, but by the end of the episode I was kinda ‘shipping them).

While Rachel and Mike’s relationship is being examined through a case like the good television they are, Suits debuts a new version of Harvey: Casual/On-Vacation Harvey™, who comes clad in a simple cardigan and white undershirt (available for a limited time only. Malibu Harvey coming soon). Following a session with Dr. Agard, Harvey decides to follow Jessica’s orders and to apologize to Louis. Later that night, he drops by Louis’ office and opens up about seeing a psychiatrist about his panics attacks, which started when Donna left. Appearing content with Harvey’s mea culpa, Louis tells Harvey everything’s good, promises not have him suspended, and invites him back to the office for the partners’ meeting where they are voting on Mike’s partnership.

In all seriousness though, what Harvey is wearing is important. On Suits, Harvey’s suit is the battle armor he puts on to fight his legal battles. It’s also a physical manifestation of his emotional armor, which we saw in the opening moments of “Privilege.” It says a lot that he’s not wearing a suit in this moment of vulnerability in front of Louis. If only Louis was a viewer/recapper watching that scene at home, he might do what he does next…

NEXT: Are we approaching the Point of No Return?

[pagebreak]

The big day has arrived. The partners are voting on Mike’s junior partnership, and everyone’s there, including Harvey. At Jessica’s urging, the decision is unanimous. Before the meeting ends, however, Louis, wasting all the progress he made last week, calls for Harvey’s suspension without pay for assaulting him under the bylaws. Clearly, he used Mike’s nomination as a way to lure Harvey into the office for this vote. However, Jack, kind of saving the day, points out that this decision requires a partner vote. So, they decide to vote on the matter on Friday. Following the meeting, Louis and Harvey have a confrontation in the bathroom, the site of Harvey’s panic attacks, but Jessica intervenes before fisticuffs become a thing.

Everyone is disgusted by Louis’ actions. Mike tries to convince him to change his vote with a Game of Thrones analogy, that’s offered to the audience without a spoiler alert: Harvey is Jon Snow, Mike is his Uncle Benjen, and Louis is the little boy who uses Uncle Benjen/Mike to lure Jon Snow/Harvey outside to be stabbed to death by his fellow Knight’s Watchmen. That doesn’t work, but thankfully, Donna’s there to get through to him. She finds out that he recorded his bathroom confrontation with Harvey and was planning on using it to publicly humiliate him. Louis wines, “He gets away with everything!” But, Donna doesn’t care and warns him that if he does this, he’ll lose her, which is all Louis needed to hear. He tries to call off the vote, but he realizes he can’t because that would require him to tell the partners he fabricated the story, which would ruin his credibility.

Showing some much-needed humility, Harvey approaches Jack, who is trying to resist Daniel Hardman’s temptation to the dark side, to ask how he can make sure the vote goes his way. Jack advises him that he needs to humble himself because many partners would love nothing more than to see him taken down a peg. But, we know humility doesn’t come easy to Harvey.

Meanwhile, Rachel and Mike’s case takes a turn for the worse when Rachel oversteps and threatens Claire’s client with a lawsuit. After she cools down, however, she comes up with a new offer that’s a win-win for both her and Claire. Unfortunately, this new deal, for some reason or another, will initiate background checks on everyone involved, including Mike. So, Mike and Rachel decide to remove Mike’s name from every relevant document, but Claire notices and calls Rachel out on it, revealing that she knows Mike’s secret. After Rachel confesses that she knows too and is engaged to Mike, Claire decides not to turn him in, but warns her that she’s making a mistake.

Later, Mike pays Claire a visit because he knows she knows. Before walking away from him, Claire says that if he really loves Rachel, he won’t marry her because he’s convinced her everything will be okay, when it won’t be as long as he’s living this lie. After weeks of smooth romantic sailing, Rachel and Mike have finally hit a roadblock.

Usually Mike’s secret stops Suits in its tracks, but tonight it didn’t because the writers re-framed it in a way that made it more interesting. Instead of focusing on how it could affect Mike, the focus became how it would affect Rachel, someone he cares about. Yes, the show frequently touched on what will happen to Jessica and Harvey if his secret ever gets out, but that’s not the same as this because in this case, the emotional stakes are higher. Now, Mike has to choose between the two most important things in his life.

The fact that Suits is bringing this issue up now makes me wonder if we’re approaching the finish line and if the Powers That Be are actually going to follow their story to the inevitable conclusion. Suits, with its frequent use of the word “s—” has always felt like a hybrid between the classic lighthearted USA (Burn Notice, Psych, White Collar) and the new, darker, and edgier USA (Satisfaction, Rush, Mr. Robot). Will Suits give into the latter and follow this story to its non-happy ending conclusion (i.e. Mike gives up law)? Or, will it follow in the footsteps of Psych‘s series finale and not deal with the real consequences of its premise? Who knows and maybe it’s too early to be thinking about this because we have at least one more season.

Sidebar:

  • Daniel Hardman sends Jack a package of *documents* with a message. Either Jack follows through on them, or he will.
  • Mike owns an Apple Watch, further adding to his ridiculousness as a fictional human being.
  • Louis’ main reason for going after Harvey tonight is that Harvey gets away with everything, which further links him and Jack, since that’s why Jack started his war with Harvey.  

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