The SUITS midseason finale wrapped up the Great Name Parter Battle of 2018. But wait! There’s more! As the result of Alex Williams’ and Samantha Wheeler’s final showdown — at least for now — Zane Specter Litt experienced yet another major change. Remember when Robert Zane and Harvey Specter weren’t sure who would be managing partner of their newly-merged firm; but they were able to agree that, “either way, Litt comes last,” if nothing else? Well. Litt comes at you fast.
Life, much like Litt, comes at you fast. Well, Suitors, here are the facts. First impressions are not always everything; and when I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong. Once upon a time, Katherine Heigl appeared to be the wrong choice for a new SUITS cast member; and her character, Samantha Wheeler, seemed more like a nuisance — at best — than one worthy of sharing the spotlight with, much like taking it from, established ones. In “Managing Partner,” though, Heigl’s performance was one of the strongest. And Sam was easily the most interesting part of the SUITS mid-season finale’s central rivalry.
Perhaps it was learning Sam’s real background that did the trick. In the typically strong SUITS flashback fashion, the episode told the story of how Samantha Wheeler and Robert Zane became so close. In the early days, before Rand Kaldor Zane even existed, Samantha and Robert became allies in finding out what kind of dirty dealing was being done at Jarvis & Other Lawyers Whose Names We’ve Already Forgotten. An FBI agent had blackmailed Sam into investigating money laundering at the firm; seemingly, Robert just had a feeling something was wrong and wanted to get to the bottom of it.
As it turned out, Robert had already learned about the money laundering six months earlier — something Sam found out when her share of the searching for “something shady” didn’t pan out — and had been paid a significant bonus to make him look complicit. Robert didn’t want anything to do with the money, so he gave it to charity; but a younger, less-used-to-the-game Sam was upset that he hadn’t gone to the authorities. It was when Zane appealed to Sam’s humanity by mentioning that he wanted to protect his daughter, who wanted to be a lawyer one day, that she decided not to report her findings to the FBI. Instead, the two lawyers worked out a way to keep Zane’s name from being dirtied by his partners’ bad decisions, and it involved the birth of Rand Kaldor Zane.
When Tom, the FBI agent, asked Sam why it wasn’t her name on the wall, she said it was because it wasn’t her time yet — but it would be one day. And this is where Ms. Wheeler becomes such a very, very compelling character. Her thanks for keeping Robert (and, by extension, Rachel) safe was to wait around for 12 years for her time to come. During those 12 years, she was Robert’s righthand woman and, apparently, used her talents to his and his clients’ advantage — even if it meant delving into slightly unethical territory. Robert then used that unethical territory as his excuse for not promoting her.
Fast forward to the present day, when Sam felt that she was finally going to get what she had earned all those years ago…but then there was Harvey’s promise to Alex Williams. That little girl who grew up without knowing who her parents were, who was desperate for a good father figure, was almost victimized by always supporting this person who didn’t seem to have any interest in supporting her. Worse yet, it was in wanting to keep yet another daughter — Gavin Andrews’ — from facing the consequences of her father’s ugly actions that she made the mistake that costs her the solo promotion to name partner that she deserved.
Had this background for SUITS’ eighth season’s big story been in place much sooner, the Rehashed Who’s Name Partner Struggle of 2018 could have been a huge hit. Instead, it narrowly escaped becoming a miss.
Litt comes at you fast. Predictably, Williams v. Wheeler had the potential to destroy the firm, and that left Paulsen to find a way to hold it all together. With the stakes so high, both Zane and Specter proved they were unworthy of being managing partner; so, as is SUITS tradition, it was time to make a leadership change. On top of adding two new name partners — yep! The entire “only one name goes on the wall” drama was for nothing! — the firm had to rearrange the existing ones.
Just as major personal changes had Louis Litt ready to take on less responsibility at work, Donna approached him about becoming Insert Firm Name Here’s latest boss. Litt was the only person who had cared enough about the firm to ask other key players (like one Katrina Bennett) not to get involved, and he was even willing to step down and remove his name from the wall in order to make room for the two new ones. It was precisely this willingness to minimize damage and put the firm first, no matter the personal cost, that convinced Donna that Louis was the only person capable of being the adult in the office.
After consulting with Sheila, which was only fair given the couple’s disagreement over whether she should accept a new job title, Louis was ready to seize his rightful seat
on the Iron Throne at the head of the table. After Donna had already set him up, all he had to do was swoop in at the right time and say the right things; but as we learned later when Donna and Harvey did their obligatory “let’s confuse the viewers” thing, Donna was the one who had given Louis pointers on exactly what to say and how to say it. So, Litt may officially be the managing parter, but we all know who really runs the show here.
Let’s just call it The Paulsen Firm and get it over with. It has a nice ring to it, anyway.
- “We know that you’ve served your country once before. It’s the chance to serve it again.” Ok, what now? I’m going to need to know more about this.
- “Are you saying you’re the new managing partner?” I have never seen the man so smitten.
- “Because I don’t mind defending criminals, but I didn’t put myself through law school to work for them.” Two interesting points here: First, ohhhhhh, the irony of working for/with Harvey Specter and Louis Litt, who had broken the law by keeping a fraud at their firm. Second, did 12 Years Ago Robert not realize that defending criminals was…working for them? Interesting.
- Donna reminded Louis that his baby will be here in nine months, so I guess that means we’ll need a new-new-new-new-new-new-new-new managing partner sooner rather than later. Her name should be Donna Paulsen, by the way.
- Imagine ruining someone’s moral compass in order to make sure that your own shady behavior wouldn’t make it difficult for your daughter to become a lawyer, only to have her fall in love with Mike Ross.
- Side note: I miss Rachel Zane.
- “I’m not a leader. They won’t follow me.” Raise your hand if your heart hurts.
- “Because it’s what insurance companies do: They blame someone else; they call it an act of God. Or, they just say, ‘screw you, come and get it.’” Find the lie. Spoiler: There isn’t one.
- “What is it going to take for you to get off the sidelines?” The delivery. Being wrong about Heigl never felt so good.
- “Your daughter. I helped you because I would’ve given anything to have someone like you looking out for me, and I didn’t want to take it away from her.” Sam is now a part of a firm that’s a family above all else. It’s what she deserves.
- Louis and Harvey hugged. I’m fine.
- Alex was willing to put Katrina at risk by having her essentially impersonate Samantha, but he wasn’t willing to let Gavin McJerkface take his burn book on Sam to the Bar. That’s…interesting, to say the least.
- For once, Sheila was right. There is no reason why having a child means she should turn down a major promotion. This whole, “how do you have it all” thing that we always ask women? And the constant personal versus professional struggle? It’s tired. Unless we’re going to ask men the same questions and write our male characters as giving up their dreams in order to have families, we need to stop doing it with women.
- Sheila was so early into her pregnancy that she didn’t have even a suspicion about it, but then she was immediately able to blame her fight with Louis on “hormones.” Sure, SUITS. That’s exactly how women’s bodies work. Next, we’ll find out that Donna only kissed Harvey that one time because she had PMS or something equally as stupid.
- “It means they beat us at our own game, Samantha — whether we like it or not. But do you know what that means? We are surrounded by some badass people. So, let’s stop fighting in here and start fighting everyone else out there.” We. Love. This.
- “They’re either both going to accept this, or they’re both going to walk the fuck out the door. Because I am sick of this shit. And I’ll tell you something else: You two are going to goddamn sell it to them.” Rick Hoffman is a gem. Also, in case no one was already aware of this: I, too, was sick of this shit.
- “Come on, Pretty.” Was grabbing his arm necessary? What about walking so close together that they may as well have been holding hands? Why is this happening? Can’t wait for it to be completely ignored in SUITS 8.5!
SUITS returns to USA in 2019 with the eighth season’s final six episodes.