SUITS Season 6 Premiere Recap: The PSL Family Struggles With A New Reality

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The SUITS season premiere dealt with the immediate aftermath of Mike Ross’ trial. At Pearson Specter Litt, the family that Mike went to prison to save was faced with picking up the pieces after the majority of the firm disappeared. While the rest of the main characters were adjusting to their new situation and trying to find a way out of it, Mike learned the rules he’d have to follow in order to stay out of trouble in prison. More importantly, perhaps, Mike spent some time finding out the hard way that he couldn’t trust anybody. He used to have a family — however non-traditional and dysfunctional it was — but now, he had nothing more than fellow inmates, guards, a counselor, and the threat of disciplinary action should he put a toe out of line.

This is the new world of SUITS, folks: Pearson Specter Litt isn’t the top firm in the city anymore — if three lawyers, a paralegal-turned-law-student, a secretary, and an IT Officer even count as a firm — and Mike Ross is behind bars. How exactly does that work? Somehow, in spite of so many changes, it just does.

Family bonding on a sinking ship. Harvey Specter made his first appearance in the new season of SUITS, not as the tough-as-nails lawyer, but as a man who had just lost a member of his family. Harvey went in search of the one person who he knew would miss Mike Ross as much as he did — Rachel Zane. After trying to pass off his visit as nothing more than a chance to let Rachel know that Mike had been successfully dropped off, Harvey ultimately answered her question of why he had really come to see her: “I miss him.”

Simple as that.

After this uncharacteristically honest admission from the formerly stoic Specter, Harvey and Rachel traded their first impressions of Mike over drinks. It was the type of storytelling you’d expect after someone has died, and the loved ones left behind come together to keep the deceased’s memory alive. In some ways, the Mike Ross we’ve come to know and love across five seasons of SUITS has died — it’s not like he’s going to be able to slip back into his old life after everything that’s happened — and this was his all-too-brief memorial service.

Rachel’s admission that she realized she’d be in trouble if she wasn’t careful with Mike led to the first toast “to trouble” in the episode, shortly before Harvey and Rachel’s trip down memory lane was cut short by a phone call from Louis Litt. Despite being told by both Jessica and Donna that tonight wasn’t the night to call Harvey, Louis had done exactly that, informing Harvey of the firm’s dire situation. Aside from Louis, Jessica, and Donna (we’d later find out that Benjamin the IT Officer had also stayed), everyone was gone. Harvey’s help was needed, and there was no time to waste on being overly sentimental over his loss — especially when it was really everyone’s shared loss.

The time for reminiscence was over; it was time to get to work. That’s not to say, though, that the Pearson Specter Litt family didn’t continue to share its own backwards version of quality family time in the midst of trying to get themselves out of a terrible situation.

When Harvey showed up just in time to hear Louis taking the blame for the firm’s latest problems, he took full responsibility upon himself for the first of several times in the episode — again showing just how much he’s grown over the past five seasons of SUITS. “But I didn’t come down here to play ‘Pin the Blame on the Harvey.’ I came down here to figure out what the hell we’re going to do.’”

As if the fact that the firm had been gutted wasn’t bad enough, though, a courier dressed as a Chinese food delivery boy served Jessica Pearson with a class action suit for every case that Mike Ross had ever touched. (I find the tainting of the delivery rude, to be honest.) At this point, it became clear that the others had split when they did because they knew this notice was coming, and they wanted to make sure that it was on record that they were not a part of the firm before it arrived.

The ever-resourceful Donna Paulsen thought she knew where everyone had gone because, in Jessica’s words, “lawyers don’t talk to lawyers, but secretaries talk to secretaries.” Unfortunately, though, when Louis tried to serve the former partners at their new business addresses, it turned out that Donna’s sources had lied. When Louis brought this news to Harvey and Jessica, all — and I mean all — of the past tension between Harvey and Louis came back with a vengeance. At the heart of the argument was how everything was basically Harvey’s fault because he’d hired Mike; but between Louis badmouthing Donna with his “liars talk to idiots” line and the unresolved issues between these two guys in general, things quickly became heated. Louis went for the ultimate low blow with a mention of Harvey’s panic attacks, which led to the first “Harvey nearly beats someone up because of Donna-related commentary” moment of SUITS season 6.

Ah, some things never change. Harvey Specter and Louis Litt will always fight like brothers, and Donna Paulsen will always be reason enough for Harvey to use his fists.

This time, though, Donna overheard the whole thing (awkward), and Rachel, not Jessica, was the one to break up the fight. Rachel reminded Harvey and Louis of what was at stake here, pointing out that Mike went to prison to save his family “…and it hasn’t been five minutes? And you’re already ripping each other apart.” At this point, Harvey tried to say something — who cares what that was, when Rachel was giving him such a giant serving of truth — and Rachel completely shut him down, while shutting both Harvey and Louis up: “Let me finish. I thought I wanted to be alone tonight, and then I realized that I didn’t because I wanted to be with my family. But if you can’t keep it together tonight of all nights, then as far as I’m concerned, you can go rot in hell.”

Rachel Zane, ladies and gentlemen.

The problem was that Harvey was sick of fighting and was ready to leave. The only thing that kept him from walking out the door was a typical SUITS-style verbal beatdown from Donna. Another thing that will never change: Whenever Harvey Specter tries to do something colossally stupid, Donna Paulsen will be the one to verbally and emotionally smack some sense into him.

This time around, Donna pointed out that if Harvey was just going to walk away, then Mike went to prison for nothing. It goes without saying at this point, but there’s not much better than watching Sarah Rafferty playing Donna in “talking sense into Harvey mode.” The only thing that might one day surpass this would be, well…Let’s just say a girl can dream.

While Donna was busy trying to get through to the brain hidden somewhere deep inside Harvey’s head, Jessica was…Well, Jessica Pearson was seriously reevaluating whether she had the strength to go on, herself. First, she had to put up with Louis Litt’s incessant whining after she disagreed with him over whether or not they should let their third name partner leave: “You never wanted me. All you ever wanted was your precious Harvey.”

Seriously, Louis. I love you, but grow up.

In get Louis to wake up and stop his latest bout of Harvey-envy, Jessica admitted just how tired she was: “The ship isn’t sinking; it sunk. And I don’t know if I have it in me to pull it back up from the bottom of the ocean,” and then she went to spend some time back where it all began: the general location of her desk in the associates’ pit of despair. When Rachel found her, Jessica finally opened up about the sacrifices she’d made and the lonely path she’d had to take in order to get to the top and stay there. While she was at it, Jessica pointed out just how hard it is to be a woman in power in specific: “I’m saying that, for women, the rules are different. You can’t be everyone’s friend and invite them to tea because warm means you’re weak. I wasn’t going to be weak. But now the flip side to that is if you’re strong, they think you’re cold. And that’s why they’re all gone. Because they see me as — as unfeeling. And manipulative. I’m tired of it.”

This whole exchange, from Jessica’s raw, honest words to Rachel’s insistence that Jessica wasn’t cold and would always have her loyalty because of it, was just reason number 29873293 why SUITS is grossly underrated.

And then the family bonding WENT there. If everything seemed horribly dark in the SUITS premiere up until this point — and I haven’t even gotten to Mike Ross’ introduction to prison life, which was no picnic — that would be because it was. But this series has always been good about balancing drama with comedy, so it was long past time for the laughs in the season opener.

 …and my God, did we get them. Remember that time when Louis Litt adamantly refused to “take the pot?” Well. As much as he tried to avoid “doing the Mary Jane” or “huffing and puffing,” he did, eventually, share a peace pipe with Harvey and Jessica.

Hilarity ensued. Mudding mishaps. A lighter, peppier Jessica Pearson. That killer Harvey Specter smile. Louis’ embarrassing story of premature *ahem* mudding. Pearson, Specter, and Litt needed something to release the tension, and they absolutely went for it.

Some viewers may have found this sequence out of place. I, personally, laughed so hard I almost peed and wholeheartedly agreed with its inclusion in the episode. It was perhaps the best and only way to show Louis that he really was part of the “in” crowd; not to mention, the pure joy of watching these characters spend some real time together, doing something other than worrying about how horrible their situation was, made the deviation from the story at large more than worth it.

After lovey-dovey High!Louis had some time to himself, he came back and apologized to Harvey for nearly handing him over to Gibbs, which would’ve ruined his life. And then, showing yet again just how far he has come, Harvey took full responsibility for his actions: “The truth is, I’m the one that ruined all of our lives when I hired Mike. And I never apologized to either one of you for it. But I will now. I’m sorry.”

But we’re still not playing “Pin the Blame on the Harvey,” though. Got it?

Back to reality. And one more bonding ritual, this time with the whole family. As the partners — all three of them — were having a little fun and coming to terms with their situation in the process, Donna and Rachel had their own moment. I’d like to pretend that it didn’t happen, though, since the Donna Paulsen actually didn’t know what to say. The moment was interrupted, though, when Benjamin found out that the firm was being hacked. The former partners wanted to get those whopping three remaining clients.

After a phone call from Jim Reynolds, warning Jessica of the danger and promising her one month to get her feet back on the ground before he’d have to pull his business, Louis Litt saved the day. He realized that they could use the other partners’ by-ins to settle the class action suit, and no one would be able to sue for the money back because it would already be gone. Harvey admitted at this point that Louis was actually pretty smart, and off everyone went to have drinks.

While celebrating their small victory, Rachel received a text from Mike, saying he was settling in, getting along well with his roommate, and would be just fine. Harvey chimed in, reminding Rachel of their earlier conversation by saying Mike’s roommate was in for trouble.

…and everyone toasted “to trouble” for the second and final time in the SUITS premiere. This would have been a wonderfully happy moment, if only what was actually going on with Mike Ross hadn’t been revealed just after it. As it was, the toast (as I wrote in my preview for this episode) was bittersweet at best.

Mike Ross learns the hard way. Probably the most heartbreaking thing about Mike Ross’ first day in prison was that, after turning himself over to the authorities in order to keep his family safe, his family grew stronger — even if there were some rough patches — while he was, quite possibly, the most alone he’d ever been. The SUITS premiere opened with Mike’s prison haircut and a recitation of all the rules he’d have to follow, complete with threats of disciplinary action. When he asked what that disciplinary action might be, Mike was told that, since he had the balls to ask, he’d probably find out sooner rather than later. He’d already made an enemy, simply because of his natural curiosity, and he hadn’t even started running off at the mouth (as Mike Ross is apt to do).

Things got worse when Mike thought he’d bonded over film references with his prison counselor (played wonderfully by Malcolm-Jamal Warner), but then after being made to sit around for hours following a psychological evaluation, he quickly realized that this guy wasn’t on his “side,” either. Worse, the counselor’s general impression of him was that he was narcissistic; and, unlike his fellow prisoners, he wasn’t even capable of realizing how full of it he was. In fact, it was almost as if Mike Ross fashioned himself as better than everyone else. By the end of this conversation, though, Mike had begun to realize that he was basically a nobody now: “Yeah, I get it: I’m no longer Mike Ross. I’m just Inmate Number 53296.” But the counselor assured him that by the time he got out of there, if Mike cooperated and trusted him, he’d be a better version of Mike Ross.

But trust is hard-won when someone has already left you hanging. Unfortunately for Mike, his trust was too easily won by someone with a good sob story — Frank Gallo. After being threatened with “trouble” (there’s that word again but not in the affectionate way that Harvey and Rachel used it) on the way to his cell, Mike met his new roommate. Or so he thought. Frank shared a story with Mike that was eerily similar to Mike’s own, although the particular crime was a little bit different. Following a little time for reflection, Mike shared his story with Frank and even borrowed his contraband cell phone in order to text Rachel.

…and then the prison guard — the same one who had been somewhat tough on Mike since he’d arrived, no less — came to collect Gallo. He wasn’t actually Mike’s roommate, and the only honest thing he’d said to him was that he shouldn’t trust anybody in prison. Gallo was looking for revenge against the lawyer responsible for putting him in jail — none other than Harvey Specter. So, with Mike’s whole story under his belt and, scarily enough, Rachel’s number stored in his call history, Frank’s going to have plenty of ammunition against Harvey. Worse yet, this guy clearly has some kind of deal going on with that guard, so Mike’s going to need to watch his back more than ever.

Again, all of this was happening while the family that Mike went to prison to save was getting closer. Just as they were toasting “to trouble” on his behalf, Mike was realizing just how much trouble he was in. Let that sink in.

Welcome to the new reality on SUITS.

Additional Thoughts

  • Gretchen stayed. Love me some Gretchen and can’t wait to see her when she gets back from the orthodontist’s office.

  • Donna called Harvey a coward. Consider that the verbal slap in the face he’s needed for a while when it comes to his emotions, even if that’s not what caused the Lady Paulsen to spit it out in the heat of the moment.
  • “Harvey, it’s going to be a rough night no matter where I am. And at least if I go with you, then there’s a chance that I could be of some use.” No, really. This is the Rachel that I’ve loved and missed ever since her character started going downhill with all of the whining and whatnot. Please let her stay like this. Let her be of some use. Please.

  • “It’s not a movie, brother. It’s just prison.” Juxtapose that with the lighthearted exchange between Jessica and Harvey where she asks, “do you ever not quote a movie,” and seriously, this entire episode is nothing but one giant lesson in how different Mike Ross’ new life is. Back at Pearson Specter Litt, regardless of the bad situation, there’s room for movies. There’s room for friendship. There’s even room for taking the pot. In prison? There’s only room for survival.

  • “Nothing like prison blue to make you realize the clothes don’t make the man.” Again, this new world that Mike’s inhabiting is exactly the opposite of everything he’s known up until this point. Way back when they first started working together, Harvey taught Mike that the suits do make the man. Maybe that was true in Harvey’s world, but it can’t be real in a world where everybody’s wearing the same (crappy) attire.

  • “Because it’s like you: I can’t stand it, but it’s part of the family.” Harvey on why he can’t get rid of his hideous duck painting at Louis’ request. Let’s just go ahead and emphasize that one more time: Louis Litt is part of the family.

  • With that being said, I fear for Louis Litt’s life in the event that he ever finds it remotely appropriate to call Donna Paulsen an idiot again. Especially if he’s dumb enough to say it in front of Harvey.

Make sure to tune in to the next episode of SUITS on Wednesday, July 20 at 9/8c on USA Network.

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