SUITS Recap: On Faith, Family, and Deals With The Devil

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The latest episode of SUITS focused on the end of Mike Ross’ trial. Once the concluding statements were delivered, waiting for the final outcome should have been a matter of just that — waiting — but with this particular family of characters and their deeply felt loyalty for one another, the real fight began the minute their time in court ended. “Tick Tock” was more about the race to find some sort of small victory in the face of losing a war than it was ever about simply watching the clock and waiting for twelve jurors to come and hand down a verdict that, depending on its outcome, might condemn everyone.

Have a little faith. “Tick Tock” opened with brothers-in-arms, Mike Ross and Harvey Specter, discussing case strategy now that Mike had taken over as first chair. Mike’s plan was to call Clifford Danner, an innocent man he’d freed from wrongful imprisonment, but Harvey thought it was a bad idea because Clifford knew the truth about Mike.

Mike’s argument for using Clifford as a witness was that the innocent person he’d kept out of prison would be a great way to gain sympathy with the jury, and he believed Clifford would never sell him out anyway. As Harvey continued to disagree, Mike asked just one question: “Do you have faith in me or not?”

And it was a question that was of the utmost importance as SUITS followed Mike and his Pearson Specter Litt partners (in crime) down the long, hard road to a final outcome.

Louis Litt spent most of the episode showing his lack of faith in Harvey and Mike’s ability to bring home a win. Convinced that Harvey only let Mike take the reins in some last-ditch effort to keep his own winning streak intact, he took his concerns to fellow name partner Jessica Pearson. But Jessica realized that Harvey didn’t care about his win-loss record at a time like this. Rather than seeing the change in representation as a sign of defeat, Jessica believed that Harvey was growing up, not giving up.

In some sense, Jessica was right about Harvey. He’s done nothing but mature, both professionally and emotionally, from day one. Particularly in SUITS’ fifth season, he’s been a rare gem of character growth in a television landscape that seems to like character regression as a device for producing easy “drama.” (I’m looking at you, ARROW and CASTLE, as the top offenders on my ever-growing list.)

What Jessica didn’t see, however, was that Harvey struggled enough with his belief in his own ability to keep one of the people closest to him safe that he was willing to stoop to some pretty low levels in order to prevent Mike from being found guilty. In an effort to force a mistrial, which Jessica and Harvey realized must be something that Gibbs feared, Harvey looked a lot like the cocky, borderline villainous man he used to be.

After an intense conversation with Donna where he confirmed that stepping down was about his faith in Mike’s ability to tell his own story, Harvey asked her to put a friend in a dangerous position by helping them to tamper with the jury. But Donna being Donna, she refused. She’d put herself on the line, but she’d never do that to someone else, even if it meant winning. It didn’t matter that it was for Mike and Harvey; she just wasn’t going to hurt innocent people.

When that didn’t work out, Harvey decided he’d simply blackmail someone who wasn’t an innocent bystander. Off he went to ask David Green to stir up some jury drama if he didn’t want his past mistakes reported. When David do what he’d all but demanded, Harvey went to see him again, earning himself the label of a bully who uses others’ fears to get what he wants.

After verbally being punched in the gut by David Green, though, Harvey went right back to showing how much he’d matured by going to Donna and admitting that he needed to see her. The Harvey of old would never have admitted to needing anyone, especially at a time when he was already feeling so powerless.

More to the point, Harvey took a huge step in proving his ability to put others first by deciding to turn himself in as the ultimate effort to do the right thing. He blamed himself for everything and saw no other way out, and when confronted with this, he turned to the one person with whom he knew he could safely share it. Because regardless of what they may or may not be to one another, Harvey Specter and Donna Paulsen have always been family. Theirs may be one of the most lightly sketched, often redrawn, and flat out unclear branches of the Pearson Specter Litt family tree, but Harvey and Donna’s relationship is arguably still one of the strongest on SUITS.

Again, though, the real subject of Harvey’s visit to Donna was not that he was willing to destroy himself in order to save those at risk thanks to his decision to hire Mike as a fraud. It was about whether or not he had faith. This time the entire decision, which Donna aptly saw as something Harvey had visited her (rather than his doctor) to discuss, was based in Harvey’s lack of faith in himself.

But, my God, did Donna restore that faith in the most gut-wrenching way possible. Emotions were flying high for both characters as Harvey repeatedly blamed himself for everyone being in danger. Donna fought back tooth and nail, telling Harvey he didn’t have to be the hero. She wanted Harvey to see that both he and Mike were worthy of an innocent verdict because she knew that they were. As he was about to storm out of her apartment after what I can only describe as their most passionate back-and-forth yet, Donna stopped Harvey, giving him one final bit of advice: “Harvey, go to the courthouse in the morning, sit with Mike until that verdict comes in, and show him that you have faith in him. Like I have faith in you.”

Both of Donna and Harvey’s big discussions in this episode were highlights, but this last one was so unfathomably good that it’s impossible to find a way to describe it. Harvey Specter’s guilt over the whole situation, battling against Donna Paulsen’s unwavering belief in him, was the type of television drama that takes true talent to bring to life. It’s a real understanding of what these two characters have been and how they have grown in the series’ run, mixed naturally with the real human emotion involved in a situation where everything is at stake.

Bravo, SUITS. I have faith that you’re worthy of being viewed as one of the very best.

Fighting for family. Harvey wasn’t the only one willing to make difficult decisions if it meant saving the firm; but each person’s interpretation of what that really meant, as well as how far he or she was actually willing to go, was wildly different.

Mike’s commitment to the firm’s name partners was the only reason he was on trial in the first place; had he turned Harvey in several episodes ago, he’d be safe by now. The entire back end of SUITS season five has been about the consequences of his refusal to turn on Harvey — or anyone else, for that matter. Arguably, the series’ two leading men are the ones that have the strongest grasp on what it means to risk everything for the ones you care about.

Jessica, on the other hand, has her limits.

She was content to let Mike and Harvey do whatever they needed to do, but when it looked like winning might be difficult, she hatched that mistrial plan with Harvey. Confronted by Donna, who saw the move as proof that Jessica didn’t have faith in Harvey (there’s that word again), Jessica admitted she knew there was a chance Mike could be put on trial again in the future. Because she thought it would be easier to get a mistrial granted than for Mike’s innocence to be proven, she was willing to go that route instead of gambling for the big win. Jessica’s peace of mind today was more important than Mike’s down the road.

That might sound like Jessica didn’t care about Mike at all, but she spent the majority of the episode arguing with Louis Litt about whether or not they should sell Harvey and Mike out to protect themselves. She categorically refused to consider any kind of deal that involved placing the blame on Harvey, saying that it would make both she and Louis no better than people like Daniel Hardman and Charles Forstman, whom they loathed. Jessica knew Harvey would be the first person to act in the interest of others if things went south: “Did it ever occur to you that if Mike gets found guilty, the first thing Harvey is going to do is walk in there and take a bullet for you and me?”

Jessica Pearson might have been willing to risk future trouble for Mike in order to keep herself safe for the time being, but she would never go so far as to overtly turn on a member of her Pearson Specter Litt family. She might not have been willing to go to extremes, but she wasn’t going to throw anyone under the bus, either.

But what about Louis? He toyed with the idea of stabbing the other lawyers, especially longtime rival Harvey, in the back. Litt visited Gibbs and asked if he’d be given immunity if he turned Harvey in, but he was deemed useless without proof. Confronting Harvey in the lobby, Louis admitted that he’d wanted to make a deal with Gibbs and demanded that Harvey turn himself in so he didn’t have to. When Harvey refused, Louis pushed him (literally…because it’s not SUITS without these guys getting physical) in the middle of their intense argument about where the blame really belonged. Louis told Harvey that everyone could go to jail because of what he’d done, but Harvey reminded Louis that he, too, was far from blameless since he’d used Mike’s secret to get what he’d always wanted.

…and Louis recorded the whole thing on his infamous dictaphone. Oh, Louis. No. Please. No.

No? Oh, thank the tv gods.

After a lot of soul searching, Louis finally did the right thing. When Gretchen came to deliver the ADA’s coded message regarding turning over her required proof, he said she should never ask him about it again. Before actually delivering Louis’ message, Gretchen admitted she knew what the call was really about and said she was happy with Louis’ choice because she had “been wanting to tell Anita Gibbs to go to hell since this whole thing started.”

Same, Gretchen. Same.

Selling souls to the devil. Mike wanted to turn himself in, but he wanted a guarantee from Gibbs that she wouldn’t go after anyone else at the firm if he did. Initially, though, Gibbs was unwilling to strike up any bargain that didn’t involve dragging Harvey Specter down. (I still have no idea why that is, but we’ll go with it.)

Later, however, Gibbs came to Mike’s home — because I guess that’s a thing that U.S. attorneys do in the middle of major cases like this — to offer him two options: He could spend two years in prison for a guilty plea with the guaranteed safety of his Pearson Specter Litt family, or he could be a free man if he delivered at least one partner to her on a silver platter.

It seemed as if Mike had changed his mind about pleading guilty…right up until the Diaz case came to its less-than-fortunate conclusion. The man Mike had chosen to defend was more than willing to sell his friends out for his own safety, and the more Mike tried to talk his client out of making a decision that he’d later regret, the more Diaz pushed back. Finally, Diaz pointed out that Mike was missing the obvious: If he was found guilty, all of his friends were going to jail anyway. There wasn’t going to be any protecting anybody, so he might as well keep himself out of jail.

Big moment of recognition.

With precious little time to take Gibbs up on her offer, Mike made the slo-mo run out of the judge’s chambers to go accept Gibbs’ terms. Harvey had his own moment of recognition when Mike wasn’t present for the jury’s decision and took off on his own action hero running sequence…But he was too late. As SUITS ended its latest episode, Mike Ross was in Anita Gibbs’ office, ready to choose a deal. Which one? No idea, but I’m hoping it probably involved jail time — not becoming a dirty traitor.

Additional ramblings.

  • The music choices on SUITS are always completely unexpected, yet perfect for the occasion. I’m pretty sure Stealth’s “Judgement Day” is going to haunt my nightmares for the next…ever.
  • That’s two weeks in a row that a performance from Sarah Rafferty has wrecked me…Oh, who am I kidding? That’s every episode. It’s when Rafferty’s paired with Gabriel Macht that both actors deliver their best performances, though, and the scene in Donna’s apartment was their best work yet — by far.
  • I don’t even want to deal with Rachel right now, but…Well. I think her whole, “what about me” line is just about all I need to say on the matter.
  • “I’m on trial for fraud for acting as a lawyer, when I’ve never been to law school. I don’t want to leave this courtroom until the verdict comes in — not for my buddy Harvey and not to go spend the last of Rachel’s precious time with her. Oh! Someone needs my help getting out of an unethical deal? I’ll leave my seat to go pretend to be a lawyer for him.” Oh, Mike. Really?
  • Mike’s closing statement was beautiful. The words, the acting…everything. Beautiful. But it was also beautifully flawed. There’s no way what he had to say could have been viewed by a competent jury as anything but an outright admission of guilt. It was so much like a goodbye that I was sure the whole thing must be a dream. Somehow, it wasn’t. If Mike was written to essentially tell the jury he was a big, fat fraud, then what was the whole point in asking anyone to have faith that he had a snowball’s chance in hell of being found innocent?

Don’t miss the season finale of SUITS on March 2 on USA Network.

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