We’re three episodes into the new season and there’s already reason to believe PSL might not survive without Jessica at the helm. In tonight’s episode, Alex joining the firm creates some expected and unexpected drama that threatens several core relationship at the firm. Meanwhile, Rachel and Donna butt heads over the associates. It’s a very weird episode that I think tries to do too much, and it ends on a jarring, even weirder note.
If you’re thrown off by the title of tonight’s episode, don’t worry; the opening scene explains what it means. “Mudmare” begins with Louis having a mudding-themed nightmare: Harvey finally agrees to go mudding with him only for their bro-date to be interrupted by Alex, who insists on taking Louis’ place in the mud bath. Obviously, Louis is still concerned that Alex joining the firm will threaten his friendship with Harvey.
Dr. Lipschitz, his therapist, tells Louis to calm down and to view Alex’s arrival as an opportunity to make a new friend. So, Louis fights against his nature and welcomes Alex to the office with a honeysuckle plant. It turns out Alex is actually a perfect potential friend for Louis: He admires Louis’ casework and, most importantly, he’s also a cat person, and not even Harvey’s mockery will change that. Louis and Alex hit it off, so Louis invites him to lunch, and Alex agrees.
You don’t need to be psychic to guess that Alex ends up having to cancel on Louis because Harvey calls him away to do something. Louis witnesses them leaving the office together and laughing, and he assumes they’re laughing at him. Louis immediately hops on the phone with his psychiatrist for help with the situation. Thankfully, his therapist is able to talk him off a ledge.
Alex actually had to cancel plans with Louis because Harvey needed his help on a case that Mike couldn’t take because a time-sensitive pro bono came along. While Mike investigates the suspicious death of a grieving father’s imprisoned son, we get a chance to see Harvey and Alex’s rapport, which includes some Psych-esque banter about Alex’s love of cats and references to the show M*A*S*H. Standard stuff. As they work together, Alex asks Harvey if he has to worry about Louis, and Harvey, after carelessly telling Alex about Louis’ fear, says no.
Mike discovers his client’s son died because the prison was understaffed, which convinces him that they do have enough for a lawsuit. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to work on it — Alex asks Harvey to pull Mike off of the pro bono since it conflicts with one his clients. Alex’s client tries to bully them off the case, and sadly, Harvey gives in to the pressure. Harvey goes against his word and tells Mike to drop the case, which goes as well as you’d think. Alex has been there a day and he’s already causing trouble for the dynamic duo. Maybe Mike should’ve been more worried about the new guy in town. (Recap continues on page 2)
Louis catches wind of what Alex made Harvey do and confronts Harvey about it. Louis think it’s a bad idea to let Alex and his clients run roughshod over them and says that they need honor their agreement with Mike. Harvey, turning his insensitivity up to like 100, brings up Louis’ friendship fears in front of Donna, which is super embarrassing. He also shuts down both Louis and Donna, who agrees with Louis. It’s a fraught exchange, the effects of which will definitely be felt in next week’s episode.
The one good thing to come out of that fight is that it helps Donna realize she screwed up earlier. Let’s rewind: Rachel, who took over managing the associates, has been having some trouble with Stephanie, the fourth-year Louis verbally abused in the first episode. After turning to Donna for some advice, Rachel tries to be more authoritative with Stephanie. Alas, Rachel doesn’t get much of a chance be the boss because Donna witnesses another instance of insubordination and undermines Rachel by stepping in and waving her COO position around.
Donna’s interference leaves Rachel feeling embarrassed, and she confronts Donna about it later on. Their argument gets out of hand, and each woman says the other wasn’t ready for her new position. However, in the wake of Louis and Harvey’s 5,274th spat, Donna realizes that she messed up by speaking for Rachel and apologizes to her. In an interesting twist, Rachel says she realizes that managing the associates is actually the last thing she wants to do because she wants to enjoy being a lawyer. So she hands control back over to Donna, and thus this whole subplot feels rather pointless. Did Rachel really need to go through this? Why couldn’t the show have just thrust her into a case? Hopefully, this will come back around soon. To be fair, I think this subplot would’ve worked better if we’d seen Rachel with the associates in last week’s episode, too. And Donna’s first order of business is to fire Stephanie. Stone cold.
Forced to give up the case, Mike passes it off to Oliver, who refuses to accept it until Mike manipulates him into doing it by bringing up how he almost died in prison. It turns out this move also pisses Harvey off; Mike is linked to the legal clinic, so their client will still be upset about the lawsuit. Harvey makes Mike sign a document saying there’s a Chinese wall between him and the clinic’s lawsuit against the prison, and he makes Mike promise to keep his word that he won’t have anything to do with the lawsuit. (Jokes! Like that’s going to happen).
Now we come to the end of the hour, and it’s finally time for Mike to meet Alex, Harvey’s new old friend. Mike passive-aggressively hands Alex a list of the next 15 pro bono cases he plans on taking to make sure they never find themselves in this position again. It turns out Alex was also frustrated with all of this and told his annoying client not to put him in this spot again, either. They realize the other doesn’t have bad intentions, and they part the conversation as friendly-ish colleagues. (See the photo above.) I’m definitely interested in seeing how Mike handles Alex. I find that immensely more interesting than going down the Louis-Just-Wants-to-Be-Harvey’s-Friend train again. Speaking of which…
As the episode ends, Dr. Lipschitz receives a phone call from a very upset Louis, who is ranting about how his recent falling-out with Harvey isn’t his fault. He says Dr. Lipschitz clearly thinks he’s a terrible person — but then, Louis calls Dr. Lipschitz “Harvey,” and we realize that Louis may have just suffered some kind of break. It’s a jarring way to end the episode, especially because I always felt like the show played Louis’ quest for Harvey’s friendship as a joke or an endearing characteristic. Now, it feels weird that we’re supposed to take it more seriously, though maybe that’ll turn out to be the point. Maybe the show will argue next week that this really wasn’t something to laugh at for the past six seasons, as Harvey did when he gave Alex the lowdown on Louis earlier in the hour.
- Elsewhere in the episode, Pamela expressed some qualms about entering into a relationship with Harvey since he’s a former patient. But by the end of the hour, Harvey had changed her mind. This felt oddly squeezed into the episode’s plot, but I did appreciate seeing a more tender side of Harvey.
- Oliver shops at comic book stores. That automatically makes him one of the better people in this world.
- Has anyone else noticed the increase in F-bombs this season? Suits, we get it — you’re not like USA Network’s old blue-sky programming. You’re edgy.