'Suits' Recap: Harvey's Violent Confrontation With Stephen
Jessica phones Darby and tells him that she knows about the deal he had with Harvey, saying she thought she was "done with partners I couldn't trust." Furthermore, she wants Stephen Huntley out of her offices. And after that, there's going to be "a conversation about the future of this merger." When Darby responds by pointing out that Harvey has successfully turned Jessica against the merger he never wanted to see happen, Jessica ends the phone call, but the look on her face afterwards says that fact is now on her mind.
The mock trial turns from treatment of the cat to treatment of the Pearson Darby Specter associates, and everyone is shocked when Nigel calls Harold - yes, the ever put-upon, actually looking angry Harold - as his first witness. This sends Rachel into a panic, especially when Mike tells her that he can't remember anything good Harold ever said about Louis. Mike doesn't have time to help her, though, because he's handing Harvey what he learned from his trip to Cameron's office, which proves that Jessica was right about Nick Howell.
While Harold unloads on Louis in pretty much every way possible before Rachel comes to the rescue, Harvey, Mike and Jessica have Nick hauled into the conference room, along with Ava. Nick thinks he's being called as a character witness, but he's quickly confronted with suspicious payments to Swiss bank accounts. He insists that Ava knew exactly what she was doing, but that he simply withheld certain specifics, and our team falls momentarily silent while Ava stares at her former subordinate.
That night, Donna comes to see Stephen in his office, claiming to be bringing him a gift. It's a copy of Colonel Mariga's deposition, which she found when her copy count was off. She's furious that Stephen went back on the promise he made to her to stay out of Harvey's business, and ends their fling. The breakup clearly bothers her as she snaps at Mike when she literally walks into him in the hallway, and when she informs him that Stephen has Mariga's deposition, Mike awkwardly tries to comfort her and has the 'this is not good' look on his face simultaneously.
Jessica and Harvey have another rooftop meeting, where Jessica admits that no one is ever going to believe that Ava didn't know what Nick was doing, because she should've known. Furthermore, she wants to know why Harvey told her he'd been plotting against her, when he didn't have to. He says that he didn't want any secrets between them, but she's going with Darby's idea that it was about getting out of the merger. "I'd be lying if I didn't say it crossed my mind," he admits, though sticks by the idea that it was just a pleasant side effect, and adds that he doesn't want to be managing partner. At least that went a lot better than the last meeting.
While Louis rewards Rachel by getting her into Columbia Law School, Mike is in a panic. He tells Donna why Stephen needs to know what Mariga said in his deposition: Stephen was the one who ordered the murders. Not Ava, not Nick, but Stephen. He and Mariga knew each other from college, and when Ava came to Darby for help, Darby went to Stephen. Stephen's whole presence at the firm was to keep everyone from finding out. A full-out brawl in the men's room, reminiscent of the great opening fight scene in the James Bond flick Casino Royale, ensues between Harvey and Stephen. And Harvey leaves Stephen on the floor.
Where to start with this episode? Let's take the easiest part first: pure satisfaction. The show's done a great job of stoking steady dislike of Stephen Huntley for a few weeks (moreso for the part of the audience that's rooting for Harvey and Donna to get together), and this installment just uses that for all it's worth. This last scene had us turning the TV volume up and jumping out of our seat cheering, because it's everything we were hoping for and then some. (Apologies to our neighbors for the noise complaint.)
From a writing standpoint, what also makes that great is that - as we covered in last week's recap - it perfectly aligns with what's already been established. Too many guest characters on TV have been introduced one way and then have sudden secrets or personality changes to fit with the plot a few episodes later. Glance back on the previous episodes of this season of Suits, and you'll see the hints that something was up with Stephen Huntley, in the way he behaved in other situations. Yet that also doesn't negate the fact that we were charmed enough by him to understand why he got together with Donna, either. Both the charmer and the liar were always there; we just didn't put the pieces together completely until now.
Moving on, it's easy to see the parallels in this episode between the Hessington murder trial and Harvey's relationship with Jessica, even before the script explicitly points out the similarity. This is another instance of the show using a case to throw some light on an aspect of the main characters' relationships, which is a fairly common practice in TV. What's worth appreciating here is that Suits does not beat us over the head to make the connection before it's brought up in the episode. One of the things this author has always enjoyed about the series is that the writers respect the audience's intelligence. The mentions and hints are there for you to find, but they're within the context of the episode, not sticking out like a sore thumb.
For example, when Darby told Jessica that Harvey had the added benefit of turning her against him, how many of you said, "Oh, I didn't think of that!" But like the Stephen revelation, it's there if you know where to look, and you're not made to feel stupid if you didn't come up with it first. And honestly, who's glad to see Harvey and Jessica not at each other's throats anymore? The scenes between Gabriel Macht and Gina Torres are some of the show's most interesting to watch.
There's one last point to make, and it's less about this episode and more about it as an illustration of Suits as a whole. Many times, this writer has been asked why we champion Suits as the best show on television, over the usual favorites like Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Game of Thrones. Nothing against those series or any other, but here's the rationale. Suits is a remarkably layered show, with much more to it than any other show we're watching or have watched in a long time. If you're willing to dig into it, there's so much to be discovered about its characters, plots, and themes. For writers or fans of TV, there's another layer of lessons about good writing, and the possibilities of television as a medium. Yet if you're not one of those folks, it also functions so perfectly as pure entertainment. You can watch this show and always feel like it's a good investment of your time on Tuesday nights.
And sometimes, like with "She's Mine," you turn the TV volume up to 30, scramble up off the couch, and fistpump in celebration as Harvey Specter throws a haymaker, because he's just that awesome. And so is this show.
On a closing note, Tuesday is Suits star Patrick J. Adams' birthday, so if you haven't already, pop on over to Twitter (@halfadams) and wish him a great one.