Suits: “Conflict Of Interest”
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Suits: “Conflict Of Interest”

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Suits

“Conflict Of Interest”

Season 3, Episode 4

Season three is shaping up to be Suits’ most serialized season yet, but the show is doing something smart in the way it’s structuring the individual episodes. Although Hessington Oil is the big case of the season, each episode breaks this case up into individual, easy-to-digest segments for the team to deal with within the span of the hour, before moving on to the next complication.

It’s a bit too easy at times and has the danger of feeling like a legal version of a House episode if they return to this well too often, but for now, it’s working very well. It helps that on Suits the case isn’t the point, it just exists as a way to expose the character dynamics of the firm and shake things up. This week, Louis’ defense of Hessington Oil’s hostile takeover and Harvey’s defense of Ava Hessington’s murder trial come crashing together in a spectacular conflict of interest, as both must figure out how to help their inextricably linked clients while not hurting the other party.

There’s an additional catch for Harvey, however, as the easiest way for Louis to ensure Hessington Oil doesn’t get taken over would be to remove Ava from her position in the company, which Harvey can’t let happen lest it anger Darby and force him to go back on his deal to back Harvey over Jessica in their struggle for power. Suits is playing fast and loose with the intricacies of how Harvey’s quest to take down Jessica is complicating not only his job but his clients, which becomes even trickier when Harvey and Mike figure out Ava is actually innocent of the murder charges. Suddenly, the urgency to make sure Ava both stays in power and gets off from the murder charges is intensified, even swaying Louis to their side temporarily out of sympathy to her plight.

The more the firm’s internal power struggle goes on, though, the more I root for Jessica to take everyone down. No matter what Harvey thinks about what happened when Jessica agreed to merge the firm with Darby’s, Jessica is the one emerging as the true underdog here, and who doesn’t want to root for the underdog? The second Harvey made a deal with Darby to usurp Jessica’s place in the firm his moral high ground over Jessica became non-existent, and although Jessica is not aware of the extent of Harvey’s treachery, she’s slowly becoming very aware of how Darby views her place in the firm, and she does not like it one bit. Harvey might be on shaky moral ground when it comes to making a move for Jessica’s job behind her back, but he’s absolutely correct when he tells her she can’t stand being number two. Her response—to go against Darby’s specific wishes and force Louis to get Ava voted out of her own company, grabbing Hessington Oil as a client for her side of the firm in the process—is exciting to watch, especially when Gina Torres brings the ultimate verbal reign of terror on Darby’s head in response to his anger. I can’t help but be Team Jessica forever, even though she might ultimately be fighting a losing battle.

But while Jessica is representing one side of Suits’ view on women in the workforce, Donna and Rachel are unfortunately representing the show’s more troublesome other view. Donna’s flirtation with Stephen last week was obviously leading to something more, and it blossoms here into a full-blown affair. The show is walking a really tricky line with Donna right now because she’s obviously one of the breakout characters (and Sarah Rafferty is so wonderful you can’t help but love her) and so the audience yearns for more, but choosing this “more” to be an affair with a colleague that is so inextricably tied with Harvey feels like a huge danger zone for the character to wade into. Donna is confident, smart, lovely, and wickedly funny, and the story is just beginning, but I can’t help but be a bit wary about where all this is heading.

It doesn’t help matters that poor Rachel has basically been reduced to Mike’s lovesick girlfriend since she decided early on in the season to forgive him. The Mike and Rachel relationship is perfectly fine—if not earth shattering—but her jealousy of Katrina in this episode was downright maddening, especially because it was simply a means to an end, a way to get both Rachel and Mike to a place where they could exchange “I love you”’s. Rachel being jealous feels like it could be an acceptable beat in a story where Rachel has other things to do, things that took advantage of her compassion or her professional capability. But for her to only pop up to talk to Donna about Stephen or to lurk in the background being jealous of her boyfriend’s pretty colleague is well on its way to being insulting to the character, and to those of us who watch her. Rachel used to be something more, so a return to a bit of complexity for the character is sorely needed.

But these concerns are just that: concerns. Suits has plenty of time to turn Rachel and Donna’s stories into something more interesting. At least with Jessica having her back up when it comes to her place in the firm, Harvey’s power struggle against her has a new, very compelling wrinkle in that Jessica just might be ready for whatever challenge he is about to throw her way.

Stray observations:

  • The “shit” homage to The Wire was fun, but it would have been even more fun if they didn’t put such an obvious bow on the reference at the end by having Katrina outright mention the show.
  • Katrina worked much better for me in this episode. Her “commitment” to Louis is great, and there is something genuinely interesting in the character’s evenness of demeanor. 
  • Perhaps I’m being extra sensitive because of my distaste for Donna and Rachel’s stories this season, but Stephen’s scene with them in the break room was basically sexual harassment 101, yes? If that happened at my place of employment someone would be getting fired.
  • Mike’s British accent is not great.
  • Louis: “If you were less attractive, I’d love you.”