SUITS’ latest episode was yet another piece of evidence that the series does best when it focuses on family dynamics. In “Good Mudding,” Harvey Specter found himself in the unenviable position of representing his brother in an increasingly upsetting divorce situation. Much like Harvey, Louis’ problems all came from at-home drama. In the offices of Zane Specter Litt, Alex Williams struggled to get through to his teen daughter, Joy, who came to work with him when she was suspended from school. With nowhere else to turn, he enlisted the help of Samantha Wheeler, who was surprisingly good at getting through to the girl — with one major exception.
From Mugging to (No) Mudding. In the opening moments of “Good Mudding,” Louis Litt was on his way to work, seemingly back to his old self following his mugging trauma, when he was surprised to find Sheila still home. She was worried that, since she wasn’t pregnant after all of five minutes of trying, either she or Louis must have a fertility problem. Sheila had made herself an appointment to make sure everything was in working order and suggested that Louis do the same; as is pretty much always the case in this grossly one-sided relationship, when Louis said that he didn’t feel comfortable going to that kind of appointment, she refused to let up until he bent to her will. In fact, Sheila had already taken it upon herself to make Louis a same-day appointment…before she even bothered to talk to him about it.
Talk firmly tucked between his legs, Louis made his way to the office. His work day began with an awkward attempt at asking Harvey for advice; and after a few moments of the type of jokes that only a 12-year-old boy should be making, he left with something resembling a solution to his problems.
Off Louis went to his appointment, where we learned that he was totally turned on by dry reading material; later, he had a sit-down meeting with a doctor, where he was told that his count was perfectly fine. But there was a catch: Louis would be 80% more likely to get Sheila pregnant if he stopped mudding.
As in, Louis Litt had to give up his favorite form of self-care, as someone with a normal sperm count, in order to increase his chances of having a child. This makes all of the sense in the world, especially right after a character has experienced a major traumatic event!
Before Louis had the chance to tell Sheila about giving up mudding, she received a phone call telling her the full details. Following an argument, which — surprise! — Sheila won, Louis promised he would quit mudding. But the woman whom he’s always giving up everything for didn’t believe him, so she set up a trap to test her supposedly “perfect” man, staging a fake work crisis and leaving him in the lurch to see if he’d run off and make use of his coping mechanism.
Sheila’s trap was so thorough, in fact, that she even had Gretchen tell Louis that his therapist, Dr. Lipschitz, was unavailable. And then, when Louis failed the test that he didn’t even know he was taking, Sheila read him the riot act about how he was putting his needs before those of his child…And I immediately wanted to reach through the television and strangle her.
To recap: (Yep! A recap inside of a SUITS recap!) Once upon a time, Sheila was so against having children that she broke up with Louis and nearly destroyed him. She came back to him — but only after using him for sex when she was engaged to someone else. Eventually, Sheila decided that — just kidding! — she actually did want to be a mother, and Louis was the perfect man to be her baby’s daddy. After not becoming pregnant immediately, Sheila forced a doctor’s appointment on Louis; he was ruled perfectly healthy but given an option for making a pregnancy more likely. Sheila then pushed a man, who was recently at his most fragile, to his stress limit to test him…and then blamed him when he didn’t pass.
Sheila did raise a lot of fair points about the number of changes that she would have to make for herself if she became pregnant; but all of those changes would be because of risk to an actual child, not hypotheticals with conception. Like, maybe give it a little longer and revisit the conversation if there was still no baby after an actually alarming amount of time? No?
Right. Because this relationship is about what Sheila wants, when she wants it — not compromise. And yes, Louis promised canceled his mud membership.
We love SUITS’ canon toxic relationship!
…we actually don’t.
Sam speaks tween. Back at the firm, Zane spent an entire episode of SUITS barely getting a mention as looming managing partner…Oh. And Alex Williams brought his daughter to work with him because she was on out-of-school suspension. Bonus: Joy (the daughter) wouldn’t tell him the truth about why she’d been suspended, and that meant Alex had to ask the women at his firm how to talk to his own daughter.
“I got it. Your daughter won’t listen, and you don’t want to listen to her anyway.” Gretchen is an actual queen, so much so that she refused to be the stand-in pair of ears. That left Alex’s rival, Samantha Wheeler, to be the only “cool” person that his child might listen to.
Hi, my name is Alex Williams. My daughter is getting into trouble, so rather than have her talk to myself or her mother, I’m going to ask a near stranger who — until very recently — I didn’t trust as far as I could throw her, to be a role model. What could possibly go wrong? Well, just in case something does go wrong, I’m going to ask my rival to make sure I don’t regret having her do my job of parenting for me…
“Making people regret things is kind of what I do.” Too easy.
To her credit, Sam was able to get Joy to confide in her. Joy’s disciplinary action came after she was caught bleaching a football field (woo). But we only learned this after Sam bragged about her own misspent youth, which featured suspensions from three different schools.
Was the story about stealing the principal’s car true? Who knows?! SUITS has already established that Sam is good at telling lies about her past.
After their little confessional, Sam took Joy to a coffee shop, where she taught the younger girl how to play mind games with opposing council when you know they’re lying (takes one to know one) but don’t have proof. While there, Joy recorded a private conversation, which conveniently included information confirming Sam’s suspicions. Sam used — or, well, threatened to use — said recording in her deposition, which made Joy think she was absolutely the coolest cool person to ever cool.
…but Daddy Alex was not impressed. As he shouldn’t be. Joy was in trouble for breaking rules and lying, and rather than teaching the young woman about why those things were wrong, Sam showed her exactly how to use them to her advantage. Cue screaming match between the two opponents in the Next Name Partner competition, in which both lawyers made fair points. It was an interesting moment, in which both Alex and Sam were equal parts perfectly correct and horribly misguided.
Well, except for this. This was plainly false: “Instead of telling her what she did was wrong, you gave her a goddamn cookie.” Sam gave her churros, Alex. Churros. Not a cookie.
Despite having been told to stay away from “That Woman,” Joy bounced into the office the next day, asking what her new bestie had planned. It was at this point that Samantha Wheeler’s constantly changing backstory started to — hopefully — come together. In what seemed like a genuine moment, Sam sided with Joy’s father and even told the (bratty, privileged, borderline gross in this moment) teen that if all she saw in her father was “my dad is rich, so I don’t need a scholarship,” then she didn’t know anything at all. It seemed as if Alex had gotten through to Sam by showing that he really was looking out for his daughter, something that Sam (maybe?) didn’t have from whoever was supposed to be looking out for her at that age.
Here’s hoping SUITS is finally getting to the point where we’re cutting the mystery crap and actually getting around to building this character: Shady childhood? We can work with that.
Family forgiveness. If someone at SUITS decides to stop writing a supposed legal drama and start making everything about Harvey Specter’s mommy issues, I will gladly stay along for the ride. Let’s just get that still true notion out of the way.
Harvey’s initial appearance in “Good Mudding” was all about his work brother needing someone to turn to. Then, when Louis’ issues were as settled as Harvey could manage, his sole purpose seemed to be to make sexual innuendo and directly reference 13 years ago (or 12.5???) with Donna…only to be interrupted by a major conflict in his biological family.
Marcus had called Donna — because we all call our brother’s totally platonic coworker when there’s something important to discuss — to let her know that Harvey’s assistance was needed immediately. Marcus was in the middle of divorce proceedings with his wife, Katie. When asked the reason for the marriage’s failure, Marcus told Harvey it was an affair — his own.
Remember how Harvey’s kind of been messed up for most of his adult life because of catching his mother cheating on his father and being asked to keep it a secret? Right. But Harvey still went to help his brother, despite the fact that the mere thought of defending a cheater was clearly tearing him up — because it was his brother. Harvey’s first move was to have a discussion with Katie. He approached her as a brother-in-law, not the opposing counsel: “I also know what it feels like to have your family ripped apart, and I don’t want to see that happen,” but that backfired in the form of sanctions.
Later, all of Harvey’s soul-baring, family guy behavior really blew up in his face: He found out, in the middle of a meeting with Katie and her lawyer, that Marcus had lied to him about the cause of the divorce. And, again, Marcus’ lie involved the one thing that Harvey had always loathed because of what their mother had done. But it get worse: The actual reason for the divorce? Marcus was gambling again, and the final straw was when he was caught asking his daughter to lie for him about what he was doing.
Double whammy. And Harvey told Marcus that he was just as bad as Lily (I’d go with worse here, given that he compounded things the way he did by also messing up his own barely-healed brother’s head) before preparing to go home.
Before he could finish packing, though, Harvey received a visit from his mom, who placed all the blame for what was happening on herself and her own past failures. Even Harvey knew that wasn’t fair. Besides, whether to blame for setting a bad example or not, Lily was the only person capable of fixing things. She reminded her formerly-estranged son that Marcus had forgiven her for what she had done, then forgave Harvey for leaving. But it was reminding Harvey just how much damage the estrangement had caused all involved that convinced him to find a way to help his brother keep his children.
Harvey’s first idea, showing how many times Katie had been negligent, was completely out of the question. So, “the best goddamn closer” went back to his initial plan of talking to Katie one-on-one to get the job done. This time, he was able to get through to her. Case closed.
Following his big outside-of-court victory, Harvey called
his wife Donna to flirt let her know that he’d be coming back soon. More to the point, he opened himself up to her, softly stating that he had lost a piece of himself on this case. Every time SUITS brings up something having to do with the Specter family saga, Harvey becomes just a bit more vulnerable; and this was, perhaps, his finest moment.
Then again, maybe he’ll run into the arms of yet another therapist — just like last time it seemed as if he had grown and was ready to attempt true intimacy.
Let’s hope we’re not going there ever again.
- “Louis, I don’t want to have this conversation. It’s bad enough that we share the same dentist.” I, too, don’t want them having this conversation.
- Tomatoes: “the most sensual fruit.” I’m…no.
- “What if I put everything in but my balls?” Yep, that happened.
- Things I don’t need: 700 jokes about Louis providing a sperm sample, including one from Donna, of all people; learning that Louis gets a hard-on from the real estate section when Forbes and The Wall Street Journal aren’t available; Darvey bantering about sex and food when they’re supposedly not a thing.
- What I do need: more Gretchen, less Sheila. SUITS, please deliver.
- “She doesn’t need to listen right now. She needs to be heard.” Sam was not remotely wrong here, and if we continue to get more of this version of the character out of SUITS, I might just warm up to her.
- Relatable and also acceptable Samantha Wheeler characterization: “a dozen bagels, 7 donuts, and one of those fancy espresso machines over there.”
- “May the best woman win.” A line.
- Meanwhile, back to the worst woman: Kudos to SUITS for somehow finding a way to make me side with a man in the conversation about what women sacrifice for pregnancy. A++++ creation of a female villain, masquerading as a love interest.
- “A parent’s job isn’t to teach the kids how the world is; a parent’s job is to teach them how the world should be.” Amazing, especially after seeing Harvey interact with his mother in the same episode. Now, there’s a guy who learned things from dear ol’ Mom that he shouldn’t have had to…
- …but, at the same time, not the most realistic expectation for most families and their situations.
- Gabriel Macht as that increasingly broken version of Harvey Specter, all barely-controlled emotions and eventual quiet chat with Donna? Yes. More of this. He’s so talented, and the performance here was on par with that in “The Painting,” which was an all-time SUITS great.
- “Did you hear me? I’ve got a hole in my tooth the size of Colorado! And before you ask me to call Lipschitz because you couldn’t handle the pressure, he’s out of town until next week. Good luck.” This Gretchen line was fabulous — right up until it turned out she was playing Louis on behalf of his trash girlfriend.
- “When it comes to family, forgiveness is a hell of a lot better than anger.” My boy is all grown up.
- The strawberries and whipped cream, this bit: “…but this is an office, and someone can overhear and misunderstand when that was 13 years ago,” followed by Harvey’s very specific 12.5 years comment… What is happening? Why not say it felt like yesterday? Why something as specific as 12.5? Did he erase about half a year because of, you know, terrible decisions (Paula), or…???????
- “Let me guess: You’ve fixed everything, and you’re calling me to tell Robert that you’ll be back in the morning.” “Ok, Mind Reader. What am I gong to say to that?” No, really. What is happening???
- “Well, you could look at it that way, or you could look at it like you chose to give a piece of yourself.” Please tell me this is how he’s going to look at opening himself up to admitting his feelings for…Oh, stop hoping.
- I know I already said this, but let’s close this one out with one more nod to just how excellent Macht’s performance was in “Good Mudding,” particularly in the scene with Brynn Thayer, who plays Lily Specter.
Don’t miss the next all-new episode of SUITS on Wednesday, August 22, at 9/8c on USA.