'Suits' 1.10 'The Shelf Life' Review
Harvey's tasked with engineering the firing of a senior VP at Pearson Hardman's accounting firm, being that Stan (played by Enterprise star John Billingsley) lied on his resume and doesn't even have a CPA - something that sounds more than a little familiar. It's hard for Mike not to see himself in the good-natured bookkeeper, who quickly suspects a conspiracy when Mike points out that the background check which outed him is years old. Harvey doesn't like the unpleasant surprise, and though he takes Mike to task, he tells Jessica that they're being played.
What follows next is two different approaches to the same problem: while Harvey starts investigating the firm's own client, Mike decides to attend a Harvard mixer in order to see what he can uncover off the clock. Harvey calls in a favor with a night court judge and finds suspicious court documents, while Mike lets Jenny talk him into using a stolen employee ID to walk into the accounting firm - and gets promptly busted. The approaches are what we'd expect from them both, so it's easy for us to follow them and believe what they're doing.
They both arrive at the same conclusion, with Harvey and Jessica asking Stan for his help in a lawsuit against his former employer. It all falls neatly together, which is something I appreciate as a writer; I want my characters to be in character. A story that's faithful is better to me than one that's surprising.
On that same note, there's one odd thing: given how easily Rachel was ready to walk from Pearson Hardman last week - let's recall her speech about not being called by anyone from the firm after being wrongfully accused - it's a bit strange for her to hear her declare this week that it's "my firm." We'll cut her some slack, though, given that she was under duress previously.
The script waits until the final minutes to put the screws to the now-former client, which is almost a disappointment because it's so delicious to watch Gabriel Macht and, in particular, Gina Torres bring the hammer down in a brief but well-acted confrontation. And the brevity makes room for almost expected scenes between Mike and Stan, as well as Harvey and Jessica, and Harvey and Mike.
As equally as important as the conclusion of the case is where that case takes the characters. The episode's final scene between the latter pair is particularly resonant because it reminds us that Harvey and Mike remain dissonant personalities, as they should so early on. This is still their origin story - it would ring hollow if everything was smooth sailing at all, let alone so quickly.
The premise of Suits may highlight the differences between Harvey and Mike, and there's certainly still a lot of play to be had from that, but the charm in this episode for me was not just that, but also seeing their emerging similarities. I hate to make the White Collar comparison for another week, but what makes that show engaging is the core relationship between the leads and how it continues to evolve - both of them being affected by the other. We're seeing that start to happen with Suits. By growing together, the characters will also grow individually.
I can't wait to see how they change, and where those changes take them as people. Aaron Korsh built two great characters, they were brought to life by two very talented actors, and that's what makes a lasting TV series for this writer. I think I'm ready for a committed relationship.