'Suits' Recap: 'Endgame' Is The End Of Everything

September 4th, 2013 8:23am EDT

Suits Suits ended last week with the best single scene of this television season. (And because that's an incredibly awesome moment, we show it to you again during the 'previously on.') How do you possibly follow that up?
"Endgame" picks up right after the end of "She's Mine." Donna's pulled out the first aid kit and is tending to Harvey's wounds, while he insists that he's fine, because he's a guy. When she berates herself for not seeing what kind of a monster Stephen Huntley was, he tells her it's okay and reassures her that Stephen will pay. After telling Mike that they're not going to talk about what just happened and getting a good night's sleep, Harvey confronts Edward Darby (recurring guest star Conleth Hill) in Jessica's office the next morning. Darby claims innocence, but Harvey and Jessica can't believe he didn't keep a better eye on his pit bull. Jessica tells Darby that he's going to do something about it.
Donna gets back at Stephen (recurring guest star Max Beesley) in her own way by locking him out of the firm's computer system. "How can you live with yourself?" she asks him, before chewing him out in her awesomesauce Donna way and capping it off by revealing that Darby just signed his pink slip. You have to love Donna; while the rest of us probably would've throttled the guy again right there, she just stays cool and collected, because she's Donna.
Harvey and Mike are back on the offensive with renewed zeal, starting with Mike sneaking his way into Colonel Mariga's hotel in hopes of getting an audience with the prosecution's star witness. When he slips the security guard the old lacrosse team photo of Mariga with Stephen, that does the trick. Mike tries to convince Mariga (guest star Kevin Hanchard) to stop protecting Stephen, but Mariga is holding firm because it'll save his own behind. Harvey makes a personal appeal to Cameron Dennis (recurring guest star Gary Cole), hoping he'll do the right thing morally if not legally, yet his old boss isn't willing to play ball either.
In other news, Louis is back in control of the associates, and already chewing them out thoroughly. Rachael is aghast at his behavior, but it's clear Louis is still bitter about the mock trial from last week. He's so bitter that he stalks Harold to his new office at Bratton Gould. Harold understandably isn't happy to see him, but when Louis tells Harold the real story behind his dismissal from Pearson Hardman, Harold turns on Mike. He also decides to pick a legal fight with Louis, filing suit against one of Louis's clients. Though the two quickly decide on a settlement, there are still plenty of insults flung about.
But that's really an afterthought this week. Harvey's surprised to see Donna in the hallway before he's about to head into court for Ava Hessington's murder trial; she's there wanting to see Stephen made to pay for what he's done. On the witness stand, Colonel Mariga sticks to his story about Ava (recurring guest star Michelle Fairley), leading Harvey to decide that their best choice is to pursue Stephen. As if on cue, Stephen walks into their strategy meeting, and threatens to turn on Ava if they accuse him of anything. Undeterred, Harvey returns to the courtroom and summons Stephen as a rebuttal witness, telling a surprised Cameron that he's about to hand him the real bad guy "on a silver platter."
While Donna watches from the gallery, Stephen almost immediately and repeatedly invokes his Fifth Amendment right to protect against self-incrimination. Cameron decides he has a few questions for Stephen himself, including asking him why he's suddenly in the crosshairs, and Stephen proceeds to reveal that Ava asked him to bribe witnesses. It looks like a double whammy for our heroes, or a triple one when Ava snaps at Mike for not telling her that Stephen is the real guilty party.
Harvey's not thrilled with Cameron, who claims that Harvey didn't convince him to go after Stephen and furthermore, isn't happy that Harvey didn't tell him about Ava trying to bribe anyone. "Lawyers, killing people? That's a hell of a firm you've got your name on, Harvey. Must be proud to have left the DA's Office for that," he quips.

Darby isn't thrilled with Jessica keeping the decision to attack Stephen from him, but that's okay, because Ava isn't thrilled with Darby keeping secrets from her. She slaps him for it, leaving him to stand there with Jessica and lament his affair with Ava's father, and how Ava pretended to be his girlfriend to keep that relationship from being exposed. "I sent Stephen out there to help her. I didn't know what he'd do," he reflects, pleading with Jessica for "a way to help."
Jessica's response to this request is to show up at Harvey's apartment (at least she brings alcohol), officially trade apologies with her closer, and tell him, "You're family to me, and you did what [Darby] didn't. You came clean." She also has an idea. Cut to a slightly inebriated Harvey visiting Mike, and sending Mike to visit Clifford Danner (Neil Brown Jr.), who since being exonerated by Harvey and Mike, is working as a busboy at a diner. When Mike asks him to talk to Cameron, Clifford balks, still full of anger at being wrongfully convicted in the first place. Yet when Mike reminds him "I broke the law to get you out," Clifford reconsiders.
As Louis explodes after Rachel informs him that Harold got one over on him with their alleged settlement and sets out to wreck Harold's future with his new firm, Clifford - now with Harvey in tow - meets Cameron. His second attempt to change Cameron's mind fails, as Cameron crashes Harvey's uncomfortable meeting with Jessica, Ava and Darby just to offer a plea deal of eight years in prison. "He's not going to prison and you know it," Jessica says, but Harvey insists that he's not going to allow Ava to serve a day. As all seems bleak, Darby suggests that he'll say that he confronted Stephen, and Stephen admitted to his crimes. This is obviously a total lie, but Jessica asks Harvey if he can convince the uber-competitive Cameron 'that this is a win," and Harvey reluctantly admits it's their best option.
He and Darby find Cameron in the bathroom, and Darby tells Cameron his story, off the record. Harvey suggests that Darby pleads to an obstruction of justice charge, does five years probation, and testifies at Stephen Huntley's murder trial in return for Ava's freedom. He finally gets through to Cameron, who tells him to "draw up the paperwork."
But wait, we're not done! Donna finds Stephen at a bar, telling him "maybe you're not as bad as I said you were. You're much worse." Part of the deal is that she got to break the news to him, just before a pair of FBI agents swoop in to arrest him.
And that's not even the biggest bombshell of the evening. All the other lawyers negotiate Darby's plea deal, and Darby is shocked to find it includes him forfeiting his license to practice law in the United States, which means he can't be a member of the firm. It effectively dissolves the merger, and a defeated Darby signs the deal, while Harvey and Cameron actually manage to exchange compliments. They'll never be coffee buddies, but at least it's something.
As we close, Rachel wants to know why Louis has such a severe issue with Harold. Louis tells her that he sees Harold as his failure, and after some gentle prodding from her, he decides to accept Harold's original settlement offer. While Ava is already in the wind, Harvey finds Donna waiting for him outside the firm. He tells her to keep the car, suddenly feeling like walking instead. After all, he's got a lot to process, and since we're just two episodes away from the midseason finale, he's probably going to have a whole lot more.

What did we learn from this week's episode of Suits? Again, there's a list. If you happen to be new to the show this season, then this might be your first introduction to an old practice of the show, which is that actions have consequences and those consequences take time. The show dropped a huge, huge bomb on us with the reveal of Stephen Huntley as a murderer, and rather than just take that for its juicy parts, we're getting to see every piece of fallout that results. It would've been easy for the writing staff to have skipped ahead however long to get past the immediate minutiae, but that would've also been too easy. Instead, they take the more truthful route of picking up right where they left off, and not shying away from showing the complete progression of things, whether it's the start of Ava's murder trial, or the continuing evolution of characters (who'd have thought Edward Darby would become a sympathetic figure, even if we're pretty sure he's not going to stay that way?)
"Endgame" is a courtroom-heavy episode, which is an interesting new flavor for the season. For one, it's nice to be reminded that Suits is a show about lawyers and not just a series about people who happen to work at a law firm; we should be seeing them actually practice in a court of law at least every now and then. The other aspect of this that's interesting is how it presents the courtroom scenes. If you've ever watched a real trial, you know they can be long and fairly dry - not the sort of thing that allegedly makes for good television. Therefore, the first thought might be to punch the trial scenes up with some dramatics. Suits thankfully, mercifully avoids that. The law itself really is fascinating, and these courtroom scenes evoke that feeling really well. For a couple of minutes there, this writer was actually somewhat regretting not finishing the pursuit of a law degree.
You've probably heard the phrase "hearts and minds" somewhere before, like as in winning over the hearts and minds of the people during a political election or military campaign. It's a phrase that comes to mind with this episode as well, on multiple levels. There's one big common thing that makes a show click for both an audience and actors and actresses, and that's characters. Fans want characters that it's worth being a fan of. Actors want characters they want to live with for years at a time. You have to create people that feel like people, and not just names on a script page. When characters are written well, we can get into their hearts and minds. Donna in this episode is a wonderful example of that; we wanted her to have a payoff, she got it, and we got to feel her turning that metaphorical page in that final scene, even with a minimum of dialogue. The writers let the emotion (and some great work from Sarah Rafferty) speak for itself.
From a fan's perspective, if you're one of those folks who really loves television and really gets into it, you want a show that's going to engage your heart and your mind. Suits has proven to be one of those shows, over and over again. Some shows only get you worked up emotionally if it's a big episode like a finale or a character death or someone's major breakup. We care about these characters in the small moments of their lives as well as the big pivotal ones. As an example, there's a sense of relief that comes with watching Harvey and Jessica bury the hatchet, because we like them and therefore don't like it when they fight.
Winning over a TV viewer's mind is much harder, especially if you watch a lot of TV and/or are savvy to the business of making it. Then you've seen a lot. Given that Conleth Hill is billed as a recurring guest star, it wasn't too hard to figure out that the Pearson Darby merger was eventually going to come to an end. The actor's got places to be, and the writers aren't gong to drag the same song out forever. (This isn't "Alice's Restaurant.") So is it a surprise that Darby's been kicked to the curb? Absolutely not, if you were paying attention. What wins the mind over, then, is getting satisfaction out of it anyway. Here's where a lot of TV shows get it wrong: it's not always about surprising your audience. Surprises are great, but they're not the end-all. You can tell a wonderful story just by delivering what you should to the best of your ability. That's exactly what happened tonight, and because we know the Suits writers play their full hand, we also can enjoy that there are going to be lots of things to deal with after the fact.
Lastly, the folks responsible for supervising continuity on this show deserve a cookie for the return appearance of Clifford Danner. Suits has probably the best continuity of a television series in a long time, and that's something fans ought to appreciate, not only because they keep their ducks in a row but because it means the writers respect us enough not to play hard and fast with what we've become invested in. More series should be like this one.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

Related: Gabriel Macht, Suits, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Drama, USA

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