After a rocky start to its seventh season, SUITS returned to its working formula in “Divide and Conquer.” When a rival firm threatened Pearson Specter Litt, everyone put aside their differences and worked together to pull off the win. Harvey Specter was finally recognizable as his usual, cocky-yet-lovable self; and Gina Torres’ Jessica Pearson made her second appearance this season, complete with Jessica’s usual command of all things. Even with some missteps along the way — nothing is ever perfect after all — the latest episode of SUITS was proof that sometimes, just sticking with the heart and soul of a series, rather than trying to shake things up with too many changes at once, is the best way to guarantee a win.
Or, in simpler terms: If it ain’t broke? Don’t fix it.
Putting the P back in PSL.
Harvey Specter has had a terrible time as managing partner, and it’s all his fault. In his latest argument with Donna, he managed to pat himself on the back for easing tensions with Mike, all while cockily ignoring Donna’s very real concerns for the rest of the garbage fire at the firm. Evidently, his decision to force Alex Williams’ partnership through, then go back on his pro bono agreement with Mike in order to keep one of Alex’s clients, was easily fixed with a gift. And anything else that might have gone wrong was just Donna “undermining” him in a meeting with Louis.
Donna, about as sick of Harvey’s attitude as some SUITS viewers, told him that maybe if he dropped the arrogance, he might be able to find a way to make everyone happy. When Harvey still didn’t listen — because why would he listen to the woman who had virtually never steered him wrong — Donna became even more direct: “If making me COO wasn’t just some bullshit move to make me feel good, then get your head out of your ass, listen to what I’m telling you, and realize you’ve got a problem.”
And then the heavens opened up, miracles reigned down upon the people of the world, and all was well in the…Ok, I’m lying here, but give me this moment of glory.
The next time we saw Harvey, it was a pleasant surprise to find that he had taken Donna’s advice. For the second time in the first four episodes of SUITS season 7, the new managing partner of the firm still bearing Jessica Pearson’s name flew to Chicago to see the Pearson Specter Litt matriarch. This time, rather than trying to force a (bad) decision through by demanding she cosign, he actually went to ask for help.
(Maybe I wasn’t lying about all of those miracles before after all.)
Jessica’s first piece of advice was, essentially, the same as Donna’s: “The first thing you do when you’re in trouble is admit to yourself what you did to get yourself there.” As in, Harvey was really lacking in the self-reflection department and couldn’t have a prayer of getting things back on track at the firm without examining, then changing, his behavior. Jessica’s next suggestion was for Harvey to “find” (invent) a piece of new business to give to Louis.
Proving the real Harvey Specter hadn’t left SUITS completely, he listened to Jessica’s advice. Inventing something for Louis to do required asking Robert Zane for help, as Jessica had once done. At least, that’s what Harvey thought.
Zane was fresh out of business to throw away this time around, though, so he gave Harvey a heads-up instead: “Instead of asking me for a handout, you should watch your backside.” Bratton Gould, the firm from which Harvey had poached Alex Williams — not to mention several of his valuable clients — was planning an attack on Pearson Specter Litt.
And the the entire firm pulled together to save themselves, just like old times. There was even some sort of shady deal that went down in the process. The only difference between “Divide and Conquer” and past SUITS episodes was that Alex, not an original member of the PSL family, saved the day.
Well. At least Team SUITS wanted viewers to think, however temporarily, that Alex saved the day. In reality? Jessica Pearson was the puppet master all along.
While Bratton Gould was always going to attack Pearson Specter Litt, Jessica gave the rival firm the exact information they needed to make it easy; and she did it all because she wanted to force the kids back home to work together. No, really. Can you imagine being Jessica Pearson, going to Chicago to live your own life, and then getting sucked back in because your surrogate children just couldn’t survive without you? What an icon.
If there was ever any doubt that Gina Torres was an integral part of SUITS’ success, doubt no more. In the sense of the series’ fictional firm? Never, ever doubt that Jessica Pearson was the best of the best.
Mama Jessica saved her wayward son (yet again) by making him learn the hard way (yet again), but what about the rest of the Pearson Specter Litt family? Let’s start with Harvey‘s wayward son.
Did anyone think that Mike Ross was actually going to stay out of that pro bono case, especially when it reminded him of just how close he came to being killed during his five minutes in prison? If your answer was yes, you probably aren’t a regular SUITS viewer.
When he convinced Mr. Reyes to turn down a settlement that would have made life much easier for the living members of the Reyes family, Mike was as emotionally manipulative as ever. Somehow, though, he was also at his absolute best. When Mike Ross gives you that puppy dog look and talks about making sure that there are no future victims, it’s difficult to turn him down. And when he adds a dash of his personal tragedy to the mix, it’s impossible not to root for him. No matter what, this kid’s heart is in the right place. In the world of SUITS, that’s no small feat.
Forget about the fact that Mike signed legal documents to say that he’d stay out of the case. That probably won’t come back to bite him at all. Nothing to see here (except for “clandestine” meetings).
While Mike was busy not-at-all discussing the Reyes case with Oliver out in the open, his fiancée was trying to make concrete plans for their wedding in some sort of misplaced attempt to prove to her father that she could focus on a marriage. But Rachel wound up arriving late to wedding planning meeting because she was busy with her career. Somehow, the SUITS narrative here was that whole, outdated, “oh, no! How ever will a woman have it all” dilemma.
If “Divide and Conquer” had a truly low point, the choice to go this route was definitely it.
Luckily, though, not all of Rachel’s story was marred by that sort of sourness. The opening scenes with Rachel and her father, while they were the impetus for the weird work-relationship dilemma angle, were filled with adorable moments of a daughter being not-so-secretly amused by her father’s childish antics. Toward the end of the episode, when Robert Zane told his daughter that he was proud of her, it was a moment of shining proof that SUITS can still deliver the emotional family moments.
Those relationships have always been what this story was about anyway. Ignore the courtroom drama. The Harvey-Mike bromance, the surrogate mothering and/or simply the mentoring from Jessica, the potential for a slow burn romance, and even the sibling-like rivalry between Harvey and Louis? These are all SUITS in a nutshell.
Wherever this series has been for the past three weeks, it’s finally returned. Let’s hope it keeps airing on schedule from here on out.
Final thoughts on SUITS 7×04 (insert Jerry Springer reference here):
- Look: If Harvey Specter has to continue being this weird, incapable version of himself to guarantee more appearances by Gina Torres? SUITS, I’m here for this. Make him do something stupid every week.
- Jessica’s faith in Harvey never wavered. I guess you have to be one of The Powers That Be to have that level of belief in someone. (ANGEL reference, for those of you youths too young to remember Torres’ days as Jasmine.)
- Aside from utterly filleting Harvey, Donna spent much “Divide and Conquer” worrying that her decision to fire Stephanie Patel had caused the firm’s latest problems. Luckily, Stephanie was slightly less petty than she was ethical; and she wasn’t the one leaking valuable information to Bratton Gould, after all. (Mama Jessica was.) Because Donna failed to find the leak, she was more unsure of herself than ever. It was nice to hear Harvey tell Donna that she had never let him down in twelve years (ok, but you’ve let her down, Harvey), but the jury’s still out on whether that moment delivered a bit of a mixed message.
- “…a big pile of People Hate Harvey.” Title of Chapter 20 of my memoir, thanks to his behavior in the first three episodes of SUITS season 7.
- Louis had a massive meltdown at the end of SUITS 7×03, so that totally means he should be back to “normal” now. His sudden acceptance of Alex Williams doesn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things, and neither does seeing such a huge moment abruptly dropped between episodes. Given that Alex admitted he never would’ve made name partner at Bratton Gould, and he now knows that Louis once looked into leaving PSL…I don’t know. SUITS has taught me not to trust people who want to get ahead, so this is worrisome at best.
- “It doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel unappreciated and overlooked.” I think “it me” is what the youths are saying these days, right?
- “You lived a lie for years! You’re telling me you can’t keep a secret about working one goddamn case?” Someone please ask Oliver to start marketing his personal blend of tea.
- “What are you, Caesar now? This isn’t the Roman Empire.” Louis also has the good tea, when he’s not being characterized in a wildly inconsistent way.
- “Tell the mighty Harvey Specter I took his toilet bowl for a test drive.” Amazing. Let’s close this one off right here.
Will Mike and Rachel ever “make time for more important things” (gag me)? Is Harvey back on track? And will Donna ever realize she’s good enough?
Make sure to tune in to the next all-new episode of SUITS on Wednesday, August 9 at 9/8c on USA to find out.