SUITS’ final season continues to be a fine example of how to go out on a high note; and that is particularly clear when it comes to Harvey Specter. Continuing the series’ tradition of taking nearly every opportunity to enhance the character, “Scenic Route” showed who Harvey is outside of the office—without the armor provided by his fancy wardrobe. While the purpose of his time away from the firm was to provide support to Samantha Wheeler as she traveled to meet her birth father for the first time, it was Harvey’s growth that, yet again, stole the show.
The Mustang of Wheelers Past. During Harvey and Sam’s Road Trip o’ Feels, most of Samantha Wheeler’s character development came in the form of flashbacks. SUITS viewers had heard present-day Sam’s many hints about her bad childhood; but “Scenic Route’ was the series’ first shot at really digging in.
It all started with a car.
We get it, SUITS writers: You like speedy cars. We already saw this with the 30-hour montage of Harvey driving at the beginning of that premiere that never happened.
Even though Harvey’s midlife-crisis mobile from his car club suited his tastes just fine, the particular model he drove turned out to cause nothing but bad memories for Sam. It was the exact make, model, year, and color of the first car she had ever driven. Unlike other teens, Sam’s first driving experience wasn’t an awkward chance to bond with a friend or parent—she was rescuing her foster brother, Adam, from their abusive home. All it took was a broken taillight; and not only were Sam and Adam in for a terrible beating—but the damaged light was what, ultimately, got them caught and put back in the foster system.
The silver lining: It was after this incident that Samantha first met Judy O’Brien, the one foster mother who had ever made her feel at home…And who, as we know, also gave Sam up.
But the thwarted rescue attempt wasn’t Sam’s only bad memory of the car. Ten years ago
(is this really 10? Or is it “10” like Darvey’s “12” or whatever?), Sam shared the Mustang story with Eric Kaldor. Asked if she knew where Adam wound up, she admitted that she didn’t; at which point, Samantha quickly ended the conversation. In just about the only evidence of his having a on record, Kaldor decided he wanted to help Sam make better memories with the car.
Unfortunately, Samantha and Eric’s “romantic” (uh, ew?) weekend turned into Kaldor offering to leave his wife, Sam finally having enough of being the other woman, and a nasty fight. The lowest blow of all: “This isn’t about me being a bad father to my kids; this is about me being a bad father to you. This is about me being the daddy you never had, but now that I’m not living up to it…”
…which brings us to the present because we’re not going to waste another second on Samantha “Female!Harvey” Wheeler having such low self-esteem that she really thought Kaldor was what she deserved. Her taste may, quite possibly, be even worse than a certain someone‘s. (Kaldor versus Agard. Tough call, tough call…)
Harvey Specter’s Guide To Taking The Scenic Route. SUITS viewers already knew Harvey loved taking his time to get to his final destination—see also: taking 84 years to realize Donna was his forever—but watching this particular version of Harvey, casually driving on back roads with his sunglasses and rolled-up sleeves, was something else entirely. It wasn’t just that he’d volunteered to take Sam on this emotionally-loaded trip; it was the carefree, natural way he settled in to a couple of days away from work that showed this wasn’t your usual Best Closer In The City™ version of
my SUITS’ leading man.
Specter, of That Firm Blahblah Specter Something, wasn’t distracted by work or in a rush to get back to the latest firm crisis; he was simply in the moment, excited about a billboard ad for burgers and in favor of enjoying the beauty of the open road. While he certainly had a special someone to get home to, whom he missed while he was away, he was secure enough to know she wasn’t going anywhere and he could just be. There’s joy and fulfillment to be found outside of being the best hotshot lawyer around; and Harvey Specter, at long last, knows it.
More important than any of the above, Harvey was simply there for his friend. He listened to Sam’s stories about her childhood, and he asked questions because he genuinely wanted to learn more; he was engaged in the conversation in ways he never, ever would have been in the past.
Seriously, imagine Mr. “Life is like this. I like this” (insert hand gestures here) actually paying attention to someone else’s life story.
Although it took more than once to understand that she wasn’t upset with him or unappreciative of their otherwise fun, buddy-trip time—Harvey is only beginning to learn how this whole “having genuine friendships thing” works, after all—he also realized when Samantha needed him to help her through a scary time. Harvey empathized. As Donna told him before sending him off on his road trip with a packed breakfast
(they’re married, by the way), his nearly-lifelong feelings of abandonment made him the best person for helping Sam through her situation. To be honest, Harvey Specter is a better therapist than Paula Agard ever was.
And whenever faced with the opportunity to open up about his own life—whether it be his love for burgers over M&Ms or just how much he admired Mike Ross, details on his complicated friendship with Louis or how his mom’s infidelity had shaped him—Harvey offered as much of himself as there was to give, with no reservations or pretense. Because he is the better man he’s always wanted to be; and he’s finally comfortable enough in his skin to just be who he is and risk the pain that may come from putting himself out there.
It should come as no surprise, then, that our all-grown-up boy made the connection between Samantha’s past and her “terrible history with men,” as she put it: “Of course you do. Because of your childhood.” Because Sam has clearly never watched SUITS, she asked Harvey what he was talking about, so he finally said what everyone has known forever: “Deep down, for years, I knew I wanted to be with Donna. I just couldn’t access it.”
So, as SUITS has shown, Harvey spent those unquantifiable years in meaningless relationships—plus one that had a shot at being meaningful, yet ultimately wasn’t (shoutout to Scottie!) and one that…Well. No shoutout for her. Moving on.
After Harvey told Samantha all about how he’d kept the secret of his mom’s cheating from his father, she said it sounded “like it might be worse than having no parents at all.” Later, though, when the stress and the fear finally got the best of Sam—and, unlike the first and smaller breakdown, Harvey realized something more was at play than frustration over a flat tire or a detour—Harvey assured her that his family situation had turned out well. “Samantha, you said that you’d be better off with no parent than one like my mom. But you’re wrong. Because I forgave her, and I’m better for it. So is she.”
Harvey Specter, folks. Applaud him.
(Maybe slap him around for forgetting to call AAA, though.)
Not quite the happy ending we wanted, possibly the one we needed. Samantha and Harvey had traded stories about a Mustang; they’d, yet again, made amends over the Mike case. Harvey even got to talk about how much he loved his son in the process. Although the pair didn’t get to eat burgers, they’d had a blast prank calling Louis Litt from a gas station; and then they’d shared all sorts of deep childhood trauma and feelings of brokenness while stranded on the side of the road.
That left only one thing to accomplish: Sam’s first meeting with a member of her family.
Of course, SUITS has taught us that Harvey is already her family; but the more “traditional” idea of family (blood relatives) can sometimes be just important. (And admittedly, sometimes that “tradition” is trash. Just not here. Shh.) If nothing else, it was a way for the Wheeler in…Something Something Firm Name
Wheeler to finally learn something about her origins.
While Sam approached her birth father for the first time, Harvey waited in the car; but he promised he’d be “right here” for her, waiting. Sam came back with the sad news that her father had never known about her, and her mother had died when she was two years old; and Harvey supported her in ways no other friend could have. He pointed out that, for as much as Sam had worried that she had been unwanted, it turned out that nobody had ever abandoned her.
Samantha, however, still needed to find closure and healing: “I still have all of this anger inside of me and nowhere to put it.” Harvey’s answer: “Maybe you don’t have to put it anywhere; maybe you can just let it go.”
I know I say this a lot, but wow. Harvey. Specter.
Sam was unsure whether or not she could let go, so she asked Harvey if he could have done so. Again proving that he’s now incredibly honest about his feelings, Harvey admitted that he never thought he’d be able to move forward without anger—until he did.
That’s just the thing: Sometimes, your journey isn’t what you expect it to be. The road is bumpy and damaging; but in the end, you pick yourself up and wind up right where you’re supposed to be. On SUITS, that bumpy road has always ended with becoming part of a family, in a firm that these characters called home. So, even though Sam didn’t find exactly what she was looking for before taking an unexpectedly long and detour-ridden road trip with Harvey, hopefully, it was a start.
Canon Darvey is the masterpiece. Who am I kidding?
If the best character development on SUITS comes from Harvey (it does), then the best continuity comes from a certain piece of artwork. Many key moments for Harvey, as well as for Darvey, have centered around the painting Harvey used to keep in his office—the one that provided one of his few positive memories of his mom. That was, of course, until the day it was blackmailed away from him by Elliott Stemple in “Accounts Payable.” That particular loss provided the opportunity for Lily to give Harvey a meaningful gift following their reconciliation in “The Painting.” Several seasons later, now in SUITS’ final season, the decision not to ruin Faye’s family for personal gain occurred just one episode prior to “Scenic Route.” This big movement forward occurred with the replacement painting used as Darvey’s focal point during the conversation.
Leave it to Donna “I Know Everyone” Paulsen to get her boyfriend the one thing he wanted most in the world but didn’t have: the original painting. Evidently, Donna can’t go two days without having Harvey around; she missed him so much while he was supporting Sam that she had to get him the best
non-Darvey-baby gift ever. (This is a thing we absolutely support, by the way.)
So, after an already-emotional couple of days, Harvey came home to a huge surprise; and he was nearly speechless. The only words he could come up with were to ask if the painting was authentic (it was) and tell Donna that she was perfect (duh?). To say that Gabriel Macht portrayed Harvey extremely well in “Scenic Route” goes without saying by now—he’s always brilliant, so it would be broken-record time if we continuously mentioned it—but even for him, and even for this character, that look of awe and the near lack of ability to speak was truly something special. Add to those the instant change from Harvey “I Can’t Stop Smiling At And Flirting With Donna” Specter to the raw emotion caused by the mere thought of seeing the painting again, and there really aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe how
good great exquisite phenomenal Macht is in this role
Just as Donna had once had to convince Harvey that he was worthy of a verdict of innocent in Mike’s trial, she chose to tell him now that he was the real deal. Then, off she went to the bedroom to
wait for the “thank you” sex give Harvey some time to call his mom.
While on the phone with Lily, Harvey came to a new point in moving past his childhood trauma: He admitted that he’d never considered it was his dad’s fault for not being there when he won a major Little League tournament; and he apologized to his mother for his part in their many years of estrangement. Bigger still—and if you think the tropical storm warning in my area is because of an actual tropical storm and not my reaction to all of this, you haven’t been paying attention to my SUITS takes for long enough—Harvey Specter told his mother he loved her.
And then, as was pure perfection for a character who, when it came to feelings, had never before been much about words, Harvey asked his mom if they could just sit together for a while.
SUITS, you’ve outdone yourself. Harvey, you’re the masterpiece. Eyes, please stop watering.
I have a lot of feelings about this.
- “Louis, this is a really bad idea.” Yeah, that about sums up that entire plot line. Not only was trying to impersonate Harvey just plain dumb; but the idea that everything just comes easily for Harvey, and people bend over backwards for him just because of who he is, is so tired. Has Louis learned nothing? Maybe if he’d grow up, he would see how much Harvey has grown—and how much about his life has not been easy.
- Hating the Louis plot does not equal hating Rick Hoffman’s always-perfect comedic acting, though. Please make the man a lead in a sitcom after SUITS ends. And while you’re at it? Make sure Sarah Rafferty gets to make a cameo because the comedic pairing of Donna and Louis is unparalleled—always has been.
- Harvey stays so thin because his extracurricular activities involve boxing, baseball, and banging Donna. Louis, on the other hand, lays around in mud.
- Speaking of: Darvey is at the “I packed you a breakfast,” sharing a coffee cup, “you’re an idiot” (big grin) phase of “I love you.” Talk about quality SUITS content.
- Harvey: Harold who? Me: OMG. Why am I picturing a scene from DOCTOR WHO? Example: “I’m the Harold.” “Harold who?“
- “Complicated math, but it adds up. Trust me.” Harvey on throwing Louis through a table after he slept with Louis‘ sister? Or me at the SUITS timeline? The world may never know…
- Speaking of fuzzy timeline math: Louis told Harold Gunderson about how bad “the last six months” have been for him, and Zane’s name coming off the wall was part of that. Zane’s name came down shortly after SUITS’ final season began. Therefore, Darvey has been together for all of “the last six months.” That painting was a six-month anniversary present. You can’t prove me wrong.
- Katrina has “friends in ballet.” Aka, she’s friends with Amanda Schull’s SFB bffs. Prove me wrong. (Don’t.)
- ”I got you a present.” “Aren’t I the one who’s supposed to bring you something?” “Did you?” “No.” And they’re both so happy????
- Harvey’s confusion when Sam lost her mind over the flat tire…priceless. I imagine his internal monologue was something like “?????? But why doesn’t she want to be my friend??? I thought this road trip was fun bff time???? Sam y u no like hamburger?”
- “I also know when someone’s not telling me the full story, and it’s happening right now.” Harvey Specter has obviously inherited
the wife’sDonna Paulsen’s superpower of just knowing.
- “I’m not letting you down.” Oh, Harvey, you never* have. (*except Paula, obviously)
- Season 1 Harvey would’ve never been empathetic about Sam being the other woman; he would’ve been so, so grossly judgmental closed off.
- …he probably also would have thrown Louis through a window for impersonating him. Like, trip ended (not that he would’ve been on said trip anyway). Back to the firm to murder. The end.
- “I love you, Harvey. You’re the real thing.” SUITS stole my thoughts and murdered me with them in the form of a Darvey scene.
- “The truth is, it hasn’t been easy. But it’s been good.” Me at SUITS.
- “Hey. If you can’t do something to cause Louis to have a stroke once in a while, what’s the purpose of living?” Once a troll, always a troll. Growth does not imply a complete change in personality—at least not when it’s done correctly. And Harvey has been done correctly.
- …by Donna. In bed.
- I’ll see myself out.
- Internal monologue during the road trip: Yes, we stan rolled-up sleeves and sunglasses. Internal monologue during everything with Louis and “The” Ted Tucker: Wtf??? Why? End it!
- That awkward moment when you’re so in love with Donna Paulsen that you forget to call AAA to come get your broken-down ass off the side of the road so you can take your very stressed-out friend to meet her birth father, as promised—just because you had a two-minute, heart-eyes-filled conversation with her. Wait until you get to a hotel to share declarations of love and gooey flirtiness with the girlfriend, Harvey, for the love of God.
- An entire episode of Harvey thriving away from work? Methinks SUITS is going to end with Harvey no longer working for Specter Something Something
- Louis thinks that, even though Harvey’s the best closer in the city, he’s “the best at everything else.” How cute.
- …because he’s not. Not by a longshot.
- “But I never held a grudge against him. I’m sorry it took me so long to forgive you. I let it cover up any good memories; and then, I wouldn’t let us make any new ones.” SUITS creator Aaron Korsh really wasn’t lying when he said this episode was “really [f-ing] good.” Not one bit. This breakthrough alone sealed that deal.
SUITS’ final season continues on Wednesday, September 11, at 9/8c on USA.