With Mike Ross and Rachel Zane gone (but never forgotten), the SUITS premiere focused on resetting the series’ narrative to include strengthened roles for familiar faces, as well as the introduction of a new character. As is tradition, it was time to shake things up with respect to the firm’s leadership; and while characters like Katrina Bennett may have benefitted from actual character growth along the way, the frequently misguided Harvey Specter found himself taking a step back.
“Either way, Litt comes last.” Nothing says “new SUITS season” like yet another [insert sports metaphor here] to determine the name of the law firm at the series’ center. The eighth season premiere’s battle was one between Harvey Specter (last season’s managing partner) and Robert Zane (the guy who saved the firm in question in the seventh season finale). What started off as some sort of new budding bromance, with Zane and Specter actually battling over who would get to do whom a solid by giving up the position of managing partner, quickly became a somewhat dirty battle of wits.
Special thanks to Louis Litt for inadvertently handing Harvey and Robert the perfect immature competition for deciding who should lead the firm: As part of the merger, conflicts of interest needed to be removed from the picture, but both men had clients with which they just wouldn’t part. Thankfully, though, their incessant bickering over the fact caused Louis to realize that Zane’s client had just gone through a major change of its own, so all either lawyer had to do was convince the right person to dump the manufacturing department.
But there was a twist. Each candidate for name partner would have his right hand man get his hands dirty, while the competitors themselves were supposed to stay out of it. Since Mike Ross was off saving the world, possibly never to return, Harvey’s proxy of choice was Alex Williams, who really wanted to be a name partner (because adding Zane’s name to the Specter Litt mix, in some form or another, wasn’t enough change). All Alex had to do was beat this unknown Sam to the finish line, and he’d be gifted with what he’d already been promised. Forget the fact that nobody even knew enough about this Sam person to know that she was a Samantha, not a Samuel or a Samwise.
Surprising absolutely no one, Harvey jumped in when things didn’t seem to be going his way, did something questionable to make sure that things did go his way, and succeeded in proving that he was never meant to be the big boss, after all. Because if nothing else has been consistent on SUITS, it’s been Harvey being all, “you have my word that I won’t do the thing,” Donna reminding Harvey he promised not not to do the thing, and then Harvey…doing the thing.
So, no matter how many fabricated sob stories Samantha Wheeler told to Client A or Client B and no matter how little development her poorly delivered one-liners really created, nobody learned whether or not Alex Williams would have been able to defeat her on Harvey’s behalf. Will he become a good Mikey Junior? Probably not because he doesn’t have an eidetic memory and actually has a law degree…but it would’ve been nice to have learned just where his failings were, rather than watching Harvey regress in his professional life, much the same way he took a million steps backward in his personal life in SUITS’ seventh season.
He wants in the game! He’s tired of looking down from the mountaintop! Ok? Jessica…still…had big clients that she dealt with on a personal level when she was managing partner? No? Sure.
Heavy is the head. On the flip side of SUITS’ merger madness, Amanda Schull’s promotion to series regular meant an expanded role for Katrina Bennett at [insert firm name here]. Louis tasked her with determining and firing the 10 least efficient associates, which she did through such purely objective means as to actually cause a major problem. Katrina’s “PATTY” program failed to recognize that Louis Litt was
Craig From Degrassi Brian Altman’s number one fan, and (probably more important in the whole, “who do we fire without making it personal” game) it also neglected certain “intangibles” that only Donna Paulsen could explain.
It took quite a lot of angst for Katrina to learn her lesson, though. Honestly, if any of the SUITS premiere was fresh and new, it was this plot line — not the millionth attempt to rename the firm or the introduction of yet another character.
Katrina’s biggest misstep came when she invited Brian to lunch and listened to his anecdotes about his child, only to swiftly change the subject to such “you’re getting fired, buddy” buzzwords as “efficiency” and “productivity,” then fired him in a fit of rage — against Louis’ direct order — when he caught on to what was happening and angrily spilled the bullpen chatter on Katrina herself. According to others at the firm, Katrina was cold and only cared about her job. If that sounds familiar, it’s because women who work hard to get ahead in male-dominated fields are often given “cold” as a label (at best), whereas their male counterparts are praised for all of their so-called “initiative.” Later, in probably one of the finest-done scenes in “Right Hand Man,” Katrina talked about other employees’ personal sacrifices, such as working 100 hours per week and not having time to go on dates, “let alone have babies.”
And by other employees, she was (obviously, though Louis didn’t pick up on it) referring to herself.
Again, this was a realistic and powerful illustration of the type of sacrifice that women often have to make in order to reach a certain level in the workplace, even when their male counterparts do not. Or, well. That’s probably unfair. At least one male SUITS character — cough, Harvey, cough — has operated under the assumption that he can’t “have it all,” so to speak, when it comes to professional prestige and personal fulfillment. And look how that keeps turning out.
Either way, though, Katrina’s misconception that she needed to elevate her career over all else was particularly relevant from a woman’s perspective. Brian Altman, for example, could have his baby without actually, well, having his baby and going through that big physical upheaval and necessary time off from developing his career.
Later, when Katrina and Donna had the key heart-to-heart that showed Katrina her real error in trying to evaluate human workers with totally technological and numbers-driven criteria, the firm’s COO would immediately pick up on just how personal the fight with Louis had been. And Donna would also manage to clear up any potential bad blood that may have come from Katrina’s belief that she shouldn’t have been made a partner herself. What could have been a stereotypical “cat fight” was more an understanding between two successful women, who had a lot more in common than Ms. Bennett may have thought.
Because, on SUITS, we somehow manage to write compelling female characters and interactions, even though they’re so few and far between. I sincerely hope that SUITS season 8 continues to bring this particular relationship to the forefront because there’s nothing quite like putting two of the smartest and most dedicated minds together, even if no matter how much they give to the
series firm, they never appear to be given the appreciation that they deserve.
Now, if only anyone had any idea where Gretchen was…
New firm name, new scattered thoughts.
- I truly can not wait to see Harvey Specter and Robert Zane’s first burger date.
- In a move that surprised no one, the big ending “twist” of the SUITS premiere involved Zane’s right hand demanding to have exactly what Harvey had promised his second in command…And I’m really over the lack of original conflicts here.
- Real friends let you know that a significant other who wants you to give up on your feline overlords isn’t worth it.
- “Louis, you know I care for you deeply and in a completely asexual manner.” “Thanks. And I, too, care for you deeply and see you as neither man nor woman.” “Thank you, Louis. Kinder words were never spoken.” A ship. And all of that Ned Stark pop culture referencing? Yes. This is a great Harvey/Mike replacement. If we must have something that steps in to fill the hole left by the Marvey dynamic, this needs to be it. The end.
- With that being said, as great as Louis and Katrina are when they’re all platonically enamored with one another? They’re even better when they’re fighting. Wow. Put Amanda Schull and Rick Hoffman together in absolutely every scene. Thank you.
- That moment where Donna and Robert mourned the loss of Mike and Rachel? Plot continuity, a nod to the fans who miss those characters dearly, and just…great emotional work. Bravo.
- “Shit. I come up here and get my ass kicked by a skinny white girl, my life will never be the same.” A line. Too bad it came in a scene so laughably forced to create a Female!Harvey. We get it: Harvey likes boxing; Samantha likes boxing. Harvey likes shady shit; Samantha likes shady shit. Harvey has chemistry with everyone; Samantha has chemistry with no one. Wait. Huh.
- Also: Blah, blah. Not enough “imagination” to think that “Sam” may have been a woman. This is failing at the “strong female character” trope. In big ways. This is not feminism. Creating a heavy-handed “omg, you assumed it was a man” situation, in a field that’s male-dominated, is just tossing a token line out there to try to claim that women can be successful in this career. As if we didn’t already know. Show it; don’t tell. Actually, the showing already happened. Her name is Jessica. She was better than Harvey.
- “You two have a nice…ick. You know I don’t mean it.” Great line. Bad delivery. Same with the whole “kiss my ass” moment. Imagine any other woman that has been a part of SUITS delivering that one; then, get back to me.
- “The person you don’t know is Harvey Specter.” “I know myself just fine.” Ok. Then, explain Paula.
- “Let me guess: You’re on Team Harvey.” I feel attacked by Louis Litt. Also, where’s the inevitable merchandise?
- “I know what it’s like to give everything and still be taken for granted.” And on so many levels, Donna. Oh, sweetie. Line of the episode. Scene of the episode. Period. We love SUITS when it gives us this.
- “Do you know what I think? That sounds like some bullshit by a guy who’s just going to do what he wants, just like he always does.” Alex isn’t wrong.
- “I was right about you.” “Aren’t you right about everybody?” “Yeah. Pretty much.” Donna is so very Donna in this episode, I can’t even.
- I’m not even getting into the whole, “you’re supposed to be saving me from myself” scene because frankly, Donna and Harvey have exhausted me. (But it was good stuff. I’m a sucker for it.)
- Even better stuff: Robert, a true leader, giving credit to Donna after things were settled with Harvey. It looks like at least someone knows she deserves appreciation.
What’s next for Zane Specter Litt? Find out on the next all-new episode of SUITS on Wednesday, July 25, at 9/8c on USA.