This was everything I was hoping for in last week’s return: An emotionally engaging, lively episode rife with power struggles and interesting character dynamics. Suits has spent all of season two to date building up the mythos of Pearson Hardman as a firm and the requisite relationships within that firm, and the last two episodes felt weirdly almost like a betrayal to all the good will it built up. “Blood In the Water” shows those episodes were merely a necessary transition to get everyone where they need to be for the next battle of the season: the fight to save Pearson Hardman.
Though Daniel Hardman was never a fully fleshed out character on his own, he served a very distinct and important purpose to the show as a whole: bringing the main characters together to fight against a common enemy. This fight created the essential character dynamics that now drive the entire series, and these character dynamics are what made this episode great. Some shows excel at the group dynamic, some work best in contemplative silence, but Suits has always been best at the one-on-one. When two characters get in a room together here magic things happen, and the episode was full of these rich exchanges.
Driving all of the action is Jessica and Harvey’s realization that former foe Allison Holt (L&O: SVU’s Diane Neal) is using information from Hardman to poach all of their best associates and clients, which is especially inconvenient in the case of big fish Trent Devin (Jon Foster), a young hotshot about to go out with his first IPO. As has happened so many times before, Harvey figures out there’s a problem, Mike figures out how to help him fix the problem, and both the firm and client are happy.
But the case itself is secondary here. What’s important are all of the rich things that happen around the case, a strength the show honed to a sharp point throughout this season, and how those things matter moving forward. The most important struggle here is the continued evolution of Louis’ place at the firm and his relationship with Harvey. Louis and Harvey’s dynamic has been aces from day one: antagonistic, but grounded in a deeper respect. That relationship is now in tatters, broken by Louis’ betrayal with Hardman and Harvey’s escalating resistance to see what Louis did in anything other than black and white. The sniveling, comic side of Louis tends to get overplayed at times but his emotional response to Harvey’s proclamation here was dead-on.
Louis’ arc in the episode gets even better once he decides to take Harvey’s outburst as an invitation to jump ship to Holt’s firm and Jessica gets involved. Jessica has always been a bit hard to read when it comes to Louis, valuing and devaluing him at unexpected intervals. Her desire here to form her very own Louis Litt Rehabilitation Program and go against Harvey to keep Louis at the firm sets an interesting precedent for the future of Louis’ place in the firm, and an even more compelling future for Jessica and Harvey’s relationship.
One of the most interesting ideas Hardman floated during his ousting was the suggestion to Jessica that one day her mentee Harvey would turn against her, just as she did against Hardman when she booted him from the firm. More and more Suits is becoming about the power dynamics of a single firm (evolving from its earlier focus on simply Mike and Harvey winning cases for their clients) and the crux of these power dynamics now rests in the relationship between Jessica and Harvey. Even beyond Harvey’s friendship with Mike; in fact, without Jessica, Mike couldn’t even exist in his current role. Bringing Jessica in on the lies made her the most important figure in both Harvey and Mike’s professional career.
But when Holt attempts to lure Harvey to her firm with a promise of more power it sparks the inevitable question in his mind: Now that Hardman is gone, why is his name still on the door and Harvey’s isn’t? And thus we have what appears to be the next central storyline for the show. Jessica firmly turns Harvey down: He’s a closer, not a leader; he takes too many underhanded measures to win; and, well, his first associate hire turned out to be a big pathological lie both of them now spend all of their free time trying to keep under wraps. “One day what he is isn’t going to be enough to make up for what he isn’t,” Jessica rightly points out. How long can Harvey’s career be held back because of his ties to Mike?
As the episode ends, with Harvey tearing up Louis’ resignation letter and adjusting to the realization he might never truly get what he wants from Jessica, the future of Pearson Hardman is still murky. The only thing clear is that Suits is back to being on the top of its game.
- Worst scene of the week: Mike getting beat up by Tess’ ex. The aftermath was great, but the scene itself was unsubtle at best.
- Harold was never my favorite, so I’m not sad to see him go. He was always just a bit too broad to be believable in this universe. I wish we could have seen his sharkatee tattoo before he went. (Side note: Now I want there to be a real animal called a sharkatee. Get to mating, manatees and sharks!) (Science schmience.)
- Although Mike absolutely drove me insane last week, I like that he only gradually got his shit together in this episode. Him being late and then not quite understanding just how deep a hole he was actually in felt like a nice, honest character beat.
- Another great, great scene: Louis and Mike in the bathroom. Louis’ analysis of his relationship with Harvey was perfect, and he and Mike always have a great rapport when they both let their guards down. And he mentioned his cat!
- I assume Harvey’s new hire is going to start next week. Very curious to see how she will be integrated.
- “Do you want to talk about it? I have ice cream.” Donna is the best.
- Louis: “Use other people’s antibacterial cream? Please, I might as well give myself a staph infection.”