SUITS Roundtable: We Need To Talk About Season 6A

mike

SUITS 6.5 is almost upon us. Before moving on to the next round of stories for the back half of the season, I spoke to some fellow fans and writers about what has happened so far in SUITS season 6. Were the storylines satisfying? What effect, if any, did Mike Ross’ trip to prison have on his development and on the series as a whole? What was our take on the way Jessica Pearson’s exit was written, especially since it was in the context of a shared case with Rachel Zane? Where are some of our favorite (and not-so-favorite) relationships as we enter the back half of the season, and what do we foresee happening as we move forward?

Related: Teasers for the SUITS season 6.5 premiere

The main focus going into SUITS season 6 was all about Mike Ross’ prison sentence. People were curious to know how the show would change and how his character would be affected. What are your overall impressions of this storyline? Was it resolved too quickly? Did it drag on too long? Was it worth it?

Shana: As of right now, the prison storyline was definitely not worth it. It somehow managed to simultaneously be resolved too quickly and feel like it dragged on forever. That’s the risk that you run when you fundamentally change the dynamic of a series. SUITS took a big risk with taking Mike Ross away from the firm, but there wasn’t any of the necessary reward for justifying such a risk. Instead of serving his time and really learning from his mistakes, Mike was able to get out of jail quickly thanks to some of the same old gray-area dealings from Harvey Specter. I appreciate that the threats on Mike’s life made this necessary but don’t believe the situation was handled well at all. Maybe the back half of SUITS season 6 will prove otherwise; one can only hope.

Jenn: I think it worked really well at the beginning of the season for an episode or two. After a while, however, it became clear that the writers were just trying their hardest to get Mike out of prison. He learned no real, lasting lessons there and I was hopeful that he would at least experience some sort of character growth or development. The opposite effect happened: prison should have served to endear me to Mike, or at least have me root for him. Soon enough, I found myself rooting against Mike. And I don’t think that’s a good thing at all. Mike became even more self-righteous and insufferable than he was outside of prison, and refused to even remotely express remorse for the lies he told and the way it harmed the people closest to him in his life. I wish this storyline had been more redeeming for him. Alas, it was not.

Lizzie: Did I like the idea? Yes, I really did. The show had gone far too long without consequences. It was getting to the point where I had to suspend disbelief, and I don’t want my SUITS to be like a superhero show where I have to squint to try to believe all they’re selling. Did it work? Eh, debatable. It worked for a while, at least: It gave some characters (the ones out of jail, at least) the chance to shine, and it provided some good acting. Was it resolved too quickly? Yes, and no. I mean, I was tired of it already, but the way it was resolved left a bitter taste in my mouth because Mike learned nothing. No one learned anything. It’s like we just threw away the first half of SUITS season 6. No growth. Was it worth it? Not really, no. Storylines are only worth it if characters learn something, and no one did in this one.

Laura: I can’t say if the storyline was worth it or not until SUITS season 6 finishes; maybe the upcoming episodes will surprise us. Having said that, the premise was a nice idea that suddenly stopped making sense during the 10 episodes that aired last summer. Mike didn’t show much change or character evolution while being in prison, and Harvey was really out of control. It could have been dragged longer if the plot was treated differently than it was; however, because of things developed, it was enough. I sincerely hope his time in jail provides him (and Harvey) some growth, even if Jessica leaving will be the pivotal point in how the rest of the season unfolds.

Cammie: The idea of Mike Ross going to prison is fundamentally appealing to me, a person who feels the need almost every episode to remind everyone that he did, in fact, do the things he’s being accused of. However, the two things I hoped to gain from this (which were: 1. moral  repercussions for Mike’s choices which would allow his character to move forward or grow in some way and 2. a reprieve in the PSL offices from covering Mike’s secret, during which we could explore the dynamics and character progressions of the other characters) did not really unfold as I’d hoped. It wasn’t a terribly boring storyline – the integration of the character we refer to as his prison boyfriend was a pleasantly engaging side-story, for example, and the plot itself was not inherently more riddled with plot-holes than previous seasons – but it didn’t provide us with a chance to see other characters grow in his absence to the degree I was hoping. And his in-prison arc didn’t leave me pondering lessons he’s learned or growth he’s attempted. Not terrible, though.

rachel

Jessica and Rachel’s Innocence Project case had a lot of people talking. What are your thoughts on their journey with Leonard Bailey, particularly as it wound up being a catalyst for Jessica making a change in her life?

Shana: At the very least, Jessica and Rachel’s journey was easily the most rewarding part of the season thus far. Across all six seasons of SUITS, I bet I could rank it in one of my top three arcs. Not only was Rachel Zane able to prove her worth after a couple of seasons of fading into the whiny, “just Mike Ross’ girlfriend” background, but viewers were also treated to a story that, ultimately, created a wonderful ending for Gina Torres’ character. Jessica Pearson wasn’t just the ruthless leader of a law firm; she was also a human being with the ability to feel empathy and change herself for the better. That’s so important.

Most importantly, though, I’m grateful to the SUITS writers for not falling into the awful trap of turning Rachel and Jessica into enemies out of some misplaced need to have only one female power lawyer as a series regular. There’s nothing better than watching a powerful woman get the chance to actually help another female trying to enter her profession. Far too often, entertainment pits women against one another — as if the only way for us to be successful is to be catty — but with this Innocence Project case, SUITS proved that it can be just as compelling for women to support one another.

…it’s as if someone has finally listened to what we’ve been saying all along.

Jenn: I liked the fact that Jessica and Rachel were able to spend the first half of the season working together. It provided a much-needed change of pace from Rachel being the insufferable know-it-all that she typically is (sorry, Rachel, but it’s true). That said, while I love the fact that Jessica bowed out on her own terms, I’m not sure I really loved the storyline as a whole. It was nice to see Jessica think about the ramifications of her actions, and the fact that she wants to be better and make the world better is admirable. But Rachel’s insistence on being right was validated with the outcome of the case, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Just because Rachel gets emotionally invested in a case doesn’t mean she makes the right decisions. It felt weird for the show to have her actually be right about this and hold more power and knowledge, in the end, than the name partner. Nevertheless, it was nice to see two of the women on this show have a storyline for once!

Lizzie: If you’d told me before the season that anything involving Rachel would be my favorite part of, well, anything, I would have laughed you out of the room. I just didn’t like Rachel. I still sorta don’t, but now I understand her, if that makes any sense — or I can see behind the whiny persona that she puts on when she’s being dragged down by the “Mike this” and “Mike that” of the matter. I can now watch her scenes and be interested, and that’s all because of the Innocence Project.

Also, and I think this is the most important part: It gave us two female characters working together, not against each other, and did a better job than most shows do these days at showing women as multi-dimensional. Yes, there are more female interactions than BFFs or enemies. Women can work together, and be friendly, and sometimes tell each other all their secrets, sometimes not. Not everything is black and white.

Laura: First of all, I have to agree with Shana about the fact that this plot didn’t become a power struggle but more of mentor/student kind of relationship. It was beautiful to watch because it didn’t just make Rachel stronger; but it helped Jessica find what she wanted, too. Even if that means we’re stuck without our lawyer queen on our screens. SUITS really took a chance with this arc. It showcased a relationship we’re not used to seeing on the show, and let’s not even start with how most of the scenes led only by ladies barely passed the Bechdel test before this. The fact that the Innocence Project was the background for Rachel and Jessica’s evolution only made it better because it made us viewers think about what we were watching.

Cammie: Granted, they could have put Jessica and Rachel in a storyline together solving a case involving fraudulent parking tickets and it still would have had me cheering from the stands; but I absolutely was thrilled with the storyline given here and found myself actually tearing up throughout at the highs, lows, and resolutions. Just seeing Jessica on screen is a pleasure (one I will sorely miss unless Gina Torres decides to grace us with her presence again someday), and we’ve been fortunate to have seen many fantastic scenes and storylines with her in the past several seasons. However, finding a storyline for Rachel that is engaging and worthy of her talents has been slim pickings in previous seasons, where all too often her arc revolved around whatever drama Mike created, so it was a treat to see Rachel exist in a space that challenged and highlighted her. I hope that continues for her in the latter half of the season, so that her send-off (as Meghan Markle will be taking a hiatus from the show after this season, we’re told) is worthy of her character’s progression and not presented as a side-story to Mike.

Rachel and Jessica working together created an opportunity for their storylines to grow in such a way where neither character’s progression or abilities were slowed or limited in order to make the other seem strong, which was such a genuine joy to watch. There was a lovely scene where Jessica, Rachel, and Gretchen were all talking together in the firm, and it was fantastic to see three strong WOC all succeeding together in their fields and existing within the same show, storyline, and place, simultaneously.

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