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Suits: “Stay”

“Stay” is a perfectly acceptable finale to a perfectly acceptable summer season of Suits. All season long, though, despite the show’s consistency and general competence, amid all the fun, sassy dialogue, smooth-as-silk direction, and snappy acting, something troublesome started to gnaw at the back of my mind. Something I couldn’t put my finger on until this finale finally brought my concerns into sharp focus.

These are all a bunch of petulant children who just bully and snipe at each other until they get their way.

This isn’t necessarily a shocking revelation, as Suits has always been somewhat of a dick-measuring contest. But something about the structure of this season turned casual swagger into an epic evolution of constant, petty, mostly pointless power plays that ultimately led the firm to end up almost exactly where it was at the end of season two. If Suits continues to be the same group of power-hungry lawyers fighting with each other over the exact same piece of the pie, when does the show have room to evolve?

 I had reservations when season three started with Harvey declaring a secret war to take down Jessica—a prideful fight based almost solely on hubris and hurt feelings—but the show steered into the skid nicely there, ultimately having Harvey realize his power play was foolish and he belongs working with Jessica, not against her. Then their attentions turned to the never-ending Ava Hessington case, which started as an interesting chance to do a season-long client arc but turned out to be an excuse to basically tell the same story every episode for eight episodes. (The show’s overreliance on the strategy/obstacle/new strategy/new obstacle/miracle solution structure is an entirely different issue.)

The thing about Suits is that although these episodes weren’t as compelling as anything in the Daniel Hardman arc last season, the show has enough style and panache to bullshit its way into making you think they are almost as fun. But by bringing Ava Hessington back to finish up the season, this time as the opponent they must defeat, the writers extended the internal petulance and broadened it to include an external force in Ava, one who was hell-bent on revenge for what appeared to be no other reason than the writers needed something to bring the season back full-circle while the firm was attempting to sever ties with Edward Darby. With Ava as their enemy—represented by the ever-annoying Tanner, who I would be happy to never see again—the show has the excuse they’re looking for to bring back Scottie to represent Darby’s side of the situation.

The whole goal of bringing back Scottie is to once again revisit Harvey and Scottie’s relationship, and this is where the finale sort of lost me. When Suits first presented Harvey and Scottie, it was a very interesting dynamic, full of passion and longing and all sorts of lovely “wrong place wrong time” sorts of feelings, but the more the show dives into the meat of the relationship, the less it makes sense. These are two people who don’t actually trust each other one bit, who purport to have feelings for each other with one breath and then accuse each other of treachery with the next, which is absolutely petty and frustrating to watch, but is ultimately fine if love/hate is the story the show wants to tell. Having them as sometimes-lovers who tangle in their business and personal lives is interesting, but ever since Scottie basically threw away her career to tell Harvey how she felt, everything about their power dynamic has been bothersome. The hardest thing to reconcile is that although the show has spent the last two episodes building up Harvey’s feelings for Scottie enough for her to believe he means it when he says he wants her in his life, as an audience member I didn’t buy it, especially to the level it was affecting Harvey making business decisions. This is a relationship that needs some careful cultivation in the next half of the season if it is going to work.

The more interesting things in this episode were happening around the edges, as Rachel was deciding whether to go to Stanford or Columbia. For his part, Mike was being a total douche, acting petty and petulant when Rachel asked for the space to do some logical considerations removing their relationship from the equation. When Mike realizes he could lose her he does come around, but only until Jessica finds out they are dating and gives Rachel an ultimatum: Sign an affidavit saying you know Mike is a fraud and will never reveal it, or Mike gets fired. Rachel—who just basically owns this entire episode, by the way—goes to Jessica and uses the document to get Jessica to agree to hire her out of law school even though she’s not going to Harvard. Rachel then decides to go to Columbia, because she’s still a regular on this show.

Finally there’s Louis, who is once again basically on an island on his own show while the big-firm legal stuff happens completely without his knowledge. His story here is about his recurring dalliance with Sheila, who gets offended when he doesn’t acknowledge that their relationship is more than casual. It’s a cute story that for once doesn’t treat Louis like a total incompetent jerk, so in that way it is very refreshing. The point of the story, though, is to get him into the Harvard student file room so he can look for Mike Ross’ file and find out it doesn’t exist. Is the original premise of Suits about to rear its ugly head again?

Season three hasn’t been a terrible season of Suits at all, so far. It’s just been a consistently troubling one, in that the show appears interested in having its characters fight the exact same battles over and over again, just shuffled into a slightly different structure. For a series that evolved so much between season one and season two, this rut is probably inevitable but certainly frustrating. With the Darby partnership gone and Scottie joining the ranks, however, there is definitely room for a whole new evolution.

Stray observations:

  • There was a lot of great Harvey and Mike banter in this episode. I’ve definitely missed the banter this season.
  • I don’t believe Stephen wouldn’t know there was a camera in that room and his confession might be recorded. Not for one second.
  • Where is Katrina? Do we think she’ll still be on the show in the back half of season three?
  • Louis: “I mean, any woman who’s been repeatedly Litt up would demand exclusive dominion over my body.” 

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