Of all the things Suits needed to do in the final six episodes of season two, developing Rachel’s character beyond “occasional Mike Ross love interest” was right at the top of the list. Although we’ve gotten brief snippets of Rachel’s past throughout the series those small glimpses—plus her on-again, off-again flirtation with Mike—were never really enough to construct a full character. “Zane vs. Zane” inches us closer to that goal by introducing her father and digging into exactly what led her to be a paralegal at a top firm instead of the lawyer to which she aspired.
Rachel’s father, high-powered attorney Robert Zane (played by the fantastic Wendell Pierce), doesn’t get the most sympathetic of introductions, but it’s one that sets up their dynamic economically and comprehensively. Basically, it boils down to he never thought she was good enough; he never expected her to succeed; he thinks she should maybe give up on her dreams of being a lawyer. It’s a tough thing for Rachel to take, especially at her birthday lunch. (In his defense, she did bring it up.) These troubles are compounded when Zane takes over as the lawyer on a big gender discrimination suit Harvey is involved in and immediately starts undercutting the previously agreed-upon deal.
That’s when things get messy: Rachel asks to be put on the case, Harvey uses her as a distraction, Zane keeps lowering and lowering the offer until they’re forced to go to trial, and then ends up using the case as leverage to attempt to make a merger offer with Pearson Hardman. Last week appears to not be the end of the firm’s troubles but just the beginning, and with word on the street they’re weak, the vultures have started circling. Zane’s brazen offer only makes Harvey and Jessica want to dig in their heels, and they counter his offer by finding enough discrimination cases at the same company to turn it into a class-action lawsuit instead.
While all this is going on, the episode manages to weave enough personal time between Rachel and her father to make their tentative understanding with each other at the end of the episode work. Now that Rachel has her father’s approval and some amazing LSAT scores, the next step is obviously seeing what she will do with this newfound confidence. No matter what she does, it was nice to have an episode that focused on her as a person, and not her as a person in relation to what is going on with Mike’s story. The deft inclusion of a thawing of the ice between her and Mike was subtle enough to allow for a renewed friendship there as well.
What I love about this show is that the case with Rachel’s father doesn’t live in a vacuum; it doesn’t just conveniently develop her character a bit and then disappear forever. It’s a living, breathing narrative organism, and like all actions on this show, it has consequences that always seem to rear their ugly little heads later on. This time, this consequence is the return of Daniel Hardman as the new opposing council on the case once Zane drops it and Hardman is out for blood. Harvey and Jessica survived his attack from inside the firm, but will they be able to batten the hatches against an outside force? Or will they ruin the firm trying?
While Rachel and her father represented the drama side of the episode, Louis and his feud with new senior associate Katrina Bennett gamely took on the comedy. Louis’ distaste for Katrina was an obvious beat to play but it was the perfect way for her to make a quick impression as a character. When Louis demands he oversee her case, she doesn’t just back down; she does something extremely smart: She goes to Donna for advice. This (unheard) advice heads both Katrina and Louis down a slippery slope of subterfuge, sabotage, and mutual pranks leading to fines, an arrest, and a hilarious file filled with Louis Litt cosplay. It was entertaining but also a way to quickly establish Katrina’s chops and ingenuity and give her a chance to show off a bit of her dedication. Also, it looks like she and Louis might be a great team, which can only lead to good things. The interesting thing now will be how will she and Harvey interact, since she was a reluctant hire all along.
- “Robert Zane is your dad?” “Is it so hard to believe my father is black?” “Robert Zane is black?” This exchange was… odd.
- LSAT mention! It’s only been six weeks since Rachel took the LSATs, so I suppose we have a bit of time before we find out what her next step will be.
- Rachel was mostly great tonight, but that bit where Rachel misunderstands Harvey and eats his bagel seemed out of character. She doesn’t usually have a problem interpreting other people’s signals.
- Louis and Harvey made up! I’ve never seen a man so happy to have the ass ripped out of his pants.
- Louis: “I’m sorry, you must have accidentally somehow gotten the file with pictures of me Photoshopped as various American presidents.”
- Donna: “First of all, you know who Zod is, and second of all, you think you’re Zod?”