In the SUITS mid-season premiere, Louis Litt and Harvey Specter were the two likely candidates to replace the recently-departed Jessica Pearson as managing partner of Pearson Specter Litt. The road to choosing a leader, however, was rocky at best. Elsewhere, Mike Ross finally learned that searching for honest employment isn’t all fun and games (he’s a late bloomer, ok?); and Rachel Zane had to make a choice about her own future. After a somewhat problematic sixth season so far, “She’s Gone” provided a seamless transition to new stories and big opportunities for development as we move forward. Much like Harvey’s dream, SUITS 6.5 was worth the wait.
Louis Litt: Leadership Loser…or is he? We all knew it was coming. Harvey Specter Vs. Louis Litt, Volume…some number. When SUITS 6.5 opened, the fate of Pearson Specter Litt was, as usual, up in the air; and (as usual), Harvey and Louis’ rivalry was at the center of things. With Jessica Pearson gone, the firm needed a new managing partner, and Louis was all too eager to prove he was the guy for the role. After some pillow talk with Tara (why?), Louis got an early start on the day, combing over the firm’s books to learn that he and Harvey were in a much better place financially than they believed.
Great leadership, Louis! Right? Wrong.
From the second Louis interrupted Harvey’s kicked puppy moment outside of Jessica’s former office, up until at least the midway point of “She’s Gone,” Louis made terrible choices. He didn’t have the empathy to notice his partner’s state of mind, much less the ability to listen when Harvey said he wasn’t ready to hire associates. Then, there was the whole mess with Robert Zane. Zane visited the firm to offer Harvey and Louis the same merger he’d once presented to Jessica Pearson; but unlike Jessica, Louis took the whole thing as a challenge, rather than seeing it for the gift it was. And no matter who told him to back off, Louis…did what he’s always done: He dove headfirst into his latest scheme.
In a totally-not-top-secret move, Louis asked Katrina to help him with poaching Zane’s best associates. But even that wasn’t enough. Louis also wanted to take Jeremy Cohen, Zane’s top client.
Because nothing says, “thanks for offering us a way out of our current predicament” like a knife in the back.
Also in true Litt’s Unfit fashion, Louis refused to listen to advice from the wiser folks around him. At one point, Louis even threatened Donna, saying he wouldn’t forget it if she refused to make the call to set up a meeting with Cohen. Our wise lady and savior’s answer? Do it “because when this comes back to bite you in the ass, I want you to remember that I tried to stop you and you didn’t listen.”
Oh, we’ll remember.
But here’s the thing (and I hinted at it in the preview for “She’s Gone,”): Louis didtake a long, hard look at himself by the end of the episode. It took Katrina being like, “hey, you doofus, we were only successful at ‘beating’ Zane because he helped us,” but at least Louis took the first step in fixing his problem: He admitted that it existed. When a freshly-wounded Harvey turned all of his pain at losing Mike into rage with which to attack Louis, Sir Litt didn’t take the bait the way he had with Zane. If anything, he over-corrected, failing to defend himself at all. And if you thought the lovable Louis Litt that we once rooted for was gone after the whole Tara fiasco, I dare you to avoid getting at least a little bit emotional during his confession. “I did everything he said I did, and the reason I did it is because all I ever care about is for people to see me as more than I am.”
If Louis is able to be that self-aware, maybe there’s hope for him yet. Not only did he realize that someone else (Harvey) was a better fit for managing partner than him, but he also refrained from letting his emotions cause him to make a bad situation even worse. And that’s to say nothing of the beautiful moment he shared with Rachel Zane, when he not only admitted that he had been derelict in his duties as manager of the associates but also extended her the offer she’d more than earned.
Harvey Specter, king of character growth. As I hinted at in the rundown on Louis Litt, SUITS didn’t exactly paint the clearest argument for Harvey to lead the firm in Jessica’s absence, either. He spent much of the mid-season premiere looking utterly heartbroken because he believed that Jessica and Mike had abandoned him by leaving the office; and when it came time to stake his claim on the managing partner position, he was a master of avoidance behavior. Or, well, Harvey made with the avoidance right up until the moment when he decided to unload all of his frustrations on Louis…but still.
None of this is what good leadership looks like, folks; and while Harvey’s rational thinking in the face of Zane’s merger offer was a sign of good things to come, spending so much time on trying to solve Mike Ross’ career problems — rather than putting the firm back together after a massive loss — was not at all a good way for Harvey to show that he was capable of filling Jessica’s shoes. Like Donna said, Harvey should have spent time trying to help Mike (regardless of the fact that it ended with that utterly defeated utterance of “Anita”), but that didn’t mean he should have wasted his entire existence.
At this point, dear readers, you’re probably wondering how I can claim that Harvey exhibited any growth whatsoever. And I’ve got your answer: Donna Paulsen. Ok. That’s probably not a full answer. Let’s elaborate.
Last time Harvey Specter had a dream about Donna Paulsen being in his bedroom, it ended badly. This time around, as SUITS 6.5 opened with the sweetest of Darvey dreams, all Harvey’s subconscious wanted to do was have a real conversation with Donna. It wasn’t just about the kissing or seeing Donna bring him coffee in nothing but his shirt; Harvey wanted to work through his feelings about losing his mentor. Additionally, his conscience (Donna) even gave him the message that it was ok for Donna to stop working for him because it didn’t actually mean she would abandon him if she did. He’s finally learned that, at least when it comes to a certain redhead, a working relationship isn’t the end-all, be-all.
What I’m saying here is I think Harvey’s dreams are trying to tell him that he’s ready for more — which has never, ever been the case before now. Don’t let me down, SUITS.
But wait! There’s more! Much like that lasting image of Donna and Harvey holding hands as the first half of SUITS season 6 closed, the mid-season premiere also ended with a big moment for these two characters. Harvey let Donna see him at his most vulnerable, and rather than lashing out or shutting down when Donna told him it was time for him to make amends with his other family (Mommy Dearest), Harvey just…broke. No, really. You want to talk about lasting images? Harvey Specter, eyes full of tears, turning to look at Donna Paulsen with his messy little boy heart all over his sleeve.
Now, that’s some good television, especially if you add Sarah Rafferty’s portrayal of Donna to Gabriel Macht’s everything in that scene. Donna was approaching a wounded animal, heart all broken on his behalf, with the only thing that might heal him; and it was absolutely killing her to do it.
With this obviously setting up an important personal journey for Harvey Specter in SUITS 6.5, one can only wonder just how far this character can go. My guess is the sky’s the limit, but will the sky also include running a firm on top of all of that healing? I guess we’ll have to tune in to find out.
- At least two “goddamns” from Louis and one from Harvey…Does either of them honestly believe that that’s what made Jessica Pearson a great managing partner? Do better, boys.
- Last thought on that dream: If anyone was wondering whether or not Macht and Rafferty had that kind of chemistry, the answer is a resounding yes.
- “I was going to tell him, you know. I was going to tell him that he’s the one that should be managing partner.” Rip my heart right out, Louis.
- Robert Zane might have told Harvey to put his dog on a leash…But physically getting in Louis’ face in a show of dominance, to the point where he was backed into a submissive position, was probably a step too far. Meanwhile, Gabriel Macht totally sold the “Harvey snaps” of it all, so SUITS can keep giving me Harvey’s quest for dominance all it wants. Please and thank you.
- “Told you it was worth the wait.” I hear you, Mr. Korsh — and so do my kitchen appliances.
- I haven’t had a lot to say about Mike Ross here because, despite his “big secret” having dominated much of the SUITS story to date, Mikey’s struggles appear to have taken on the dreaded B story. I’ll say this much, though: The return of Mike’s man bag and bike was a nice bit of symbolism. After everything, Mike’s come full circle. He has to find his way in the world, get a real job, and start doing some good. Unlike last time around, though, it’s not going to be easy. Whether it was in the (stupid) decision to try to practice law in his own way or even taking the teaching job from Father Walker, Mike spent a lot of time seeing very real consequences for his (fraudulent) actions. Even going to prison didn’t drive home the idea that actions have consequences…or did it? At least he’d learned enough not to take the easy offer from Harvey, and he was insistent on being honest with his students about Father Conroy’s illness. That’s something. We’ll see if it lasts. (It’s not exactly like the excitement over Mike’s trip to prison paid off, after all.)
- Speaking of Mike and prison: He really had no idea that job applications have that question about convictions? Dude has never applied for an honest job in his life. Oy vey.
- Screaming at Harvey when he was all pouty and admitting to needing someone was…probably not Mike’s finest hour, regardless of the good reasons behind refusing to come back to the firm.
- “She didn’t even come back to say goodbye. Just packed up her things. They’re all leaving, Donna. First Jessica and now Mike. They’re family. Family’s not supposed to…” Someone please protect Harvey Specter. I beg of you.
- “Enough is enough. You need to go make things right with your mother. Because as long as you keep her at arm’s length, you’re going to keep looking to us to fill that void, and I’m not sure that any of us can. Please?” The “please” broke me. Rafferty strikes again. Send help.
- Rachel Zane also seems to have been a little neglected, at least compared with her previous involvement in SUITS season 6. I could’ve done without any scenes where she played Mike’s supportive woman™, but I admired her strength when she turned down the handout from her father. I hope that the decision was more about proving herself than mere loyalty to the firm, though; and I’m pretty sure that it was, considering she confronted one of her biggest critics as part of her decision-making process. Jessica Pearson taught you well, Rachel. Keep up the good work.
- “I’m not going to leave them when they need me the most.” SUITS is about the family we choose. Rachel Zane has chosen her family.
- “And you did that all on your own. Nobody asked you to do it. Where I come from, they call that stepping up.” Gretchen is the wise hero we all deserve.
So, do we think Louis Litt has finally grown up? Will Mike Ross ever get a real job? And are Donna and Harvey finally headed somewhere? Make sure to tune in to more of SUITS season 6.5 on Wednesdays at 10:00 EST on the USA Network.