With Thursday's midseason premiere, USA's Suits re-established why it is the best show on television - in fact, required viewing for anyone who loves TV.
Picking up a week after the midseason finale, "Blind-Sided" starts with Mike (Patrick J. Adams) still on emotional tilt, still getting high and still mixed up with his very much married old friend Tess (guest star Elisabeth Hower), the night before he's supposed to go back to work at Pearson Hardman.
The next morning, Harvey (Gabriel Macht) watches Daniel Hardman's name being scraped off the former managing partner's office wall, before Donna (Sarah Rafferty) tells him that he's got a message from Zoe Lawford. "I wanted to be in a position of power when I toyed with you," Donna says, determined to know why Harvey called Zoe in the first place. She eventually gets him to admit that Zoe is the person he wants to celebrate Hardman's defeat with.
Someone Harvey isn't excited about seeing is Louis (Rick Hoffman), who's still very much in the doghouse with his colleagues, much to his annoyance.
Elsewhere in the office, Rachel (Meghan Markle) nearly snaps Mike's head off when they start talking about her finding Tess in his apartment, and Rachel is surprised when Mike admits to her that Tess is married. Harvey interrupts their debacle by saying there's a crisis that needs attention. That crisis surrounds a young man named Liam Carson, who hit Albert Chung with his car driving home from a party, and doesn't know what happened to the victim because he left the scene of the accident. It's a hit-and-run.
Liam insists that he wasn't drunk at the time of the accident, but Mike doesn't believe him, and his badgering of Liam makes Harvey think Mike needs to chill. Harvey pulls Mike aside and tells him that that as his parents were killed by a drunk driver and his grandmother just died, he might need to find something else to do, but Mike refuses to step away from the case.
The pair then persuade Liam and his mother (Jennifer Dale) that Liam needs to turn himself in. "I've been where you are right now," Mike tells Liam after he's booked, explaining about his own drug-related indiscretions. He assures Liam that he'll be home in time for dinner.
Meanwhile, Louis has lunch with Sheila (Rachael Harris), who already knows that he's made senior partner. He's called her to help him find a new associate, and perhaps for something else besides. She's not only lined up interviews for him, but she tells him to meet him at her hotel the next night with "coconut oil, a ski mask and duct tape." Kinky.
Mike and Harvey meet with junior prosecutor Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull) in hopes of negotiating a plea agreement for Liam. Unwilling to budge an inch, Katrina tells them that Albert died after the accident, which makes the charge against Liam a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Louis's first interview is with Maria Monroe (Aarti Mann), who pushes him around almost from the word 'go'. She tells him she has standing offers from the top three firms in the city. This is enough to get him to send away the other folks he had planned on interviewing. "I have to have you," he tells her, and she responds, "That's what they all say."
In Harvey's office, Mike gives Harvey an interesting piece of information: that Albert Chung was an art school dropout who was tagging a nearby building and running away from the scene at the time Liam hit him. "I think you missed your calling as a fake cop," quips Harvey, who sends Mike to throw this new knowledge in Katrina's face.
When he does, Katrina agrees to take the deal as a "favor" to Mike. When a suspicious Mike asks what she wants in return, she tells him she wants to come work for Pearson Hardman. "If you were to put a word in with Harvey, I would appreciate it," she tells Mike, who isn't sure if he's secured a plea deal for Liam or agreed to a bribe.
"I don't want to hire another associate ever again. The one I picked causes me enough headaches," Harvey tells Mike when Mike informs him about Katrina's desire for a job interview. He doesn't give Mike a chance to catch his breath, instead assigning him to negotiate a monetary settlement with Albert's family. Mike tells Harvey the story of when a lawyer visited his grandmother to offer a settlement following the death of his parents, and a not entirely unsympathetic Harvey authorizes him to pay the Chung family as much as $100,000.
Mike and Rachel have another confrontation in the file room when Mike asks Rachel to keep the fact that Tess is married to herself. He calls her judgmental and she snaps back that she's had an affair before, too - that she pursued a married man. "You have no idea what you passed on," she adds as she leaves. "And I'll tell you something, Mike. What you're doing, it only ends one way."
Mike meets with the Chung family and assures them that Liam feels horrible about the accident. Liam's sister tells him that all the family wants is enough money to pay off Albert's debts and cover his funeral costs: a mere $20,000. Much to the family's surprise, Mike insists on awarding them the full $100,000.
That evening, Louis shows up at Sheila's apartment, calls himself "Batman," and tries to put the moves on her in one of the most awkward romantic scenes ever on television. She stops him by asking him who his frontrunner is, and when he tells her about Maria, she reveals that the whole thing was a test. Louis tells Sheila that he's going to need her to help him close the deal with Maria, and she agrees to help him, just before she asks him if he needs a safeword. Moving on...
Harvey has his own plans for the evening, meeting Zoe (Jacinda Barrett, Gabriel Macht's real-life wife) and Zoe's niece, Olivia. Zoe has custody of the young lady as her brother Jason dropped Olivia off on short notice. Harvey decides that rather than go out on their date, he and Zoe will just have to stay in instead. At Olivia's request, he even heads upstairs to give her a kiss goodnight. This may be the only time the word 'cute' and the name 'Harvey Specter' ought to be used in the same sentence. But even after hours, Harvey still has time to call Mike and tell him to take the paperwork for the plea deal over to Liam and his mother. One problem: Mike's already been getting high with Tess.
An emotional Liam resumes beating himself up for Albert's death when Mike arrives, and confesses to Mike that he wasn't drunk at the time of the accident - he was high. He didn't say anything about it because Harvey told him not to. A shocked Mike realizes that this new piece of information could destroy the entire agreement - not that he has much room to talk, given that he's also presently under the influence.
"We've got a huge problem," Mike tells Harvey the next morning, but Harvey isn't bothered. He points out that Liam's conversation with Mike falls under attorney-client privelege and doesn't change anything because they didn't know about that information when they agreed to the deal. Mike points out that the Chung family believe Albert was responsible for his own death. Harvey throws Mike's way-too-huge settlement deal back in his face, and Mike storms off.
Donna meets Maria shortly after she officially joins the team, and a warning light goes on for Donna when Maria asks questions about Mike. She was secretary of her class at Harvard and insists that there was no Mike Ross in that class. Donna quickly makes up a lie about Mike clerking for three years, which would put him in a different class at Harvard, which seems to convince Maria...for now. This exchange comes to Harvey's attention, and Harvey brings it to Jessica's attention. Jessica, referring to Mike as "the gift that keeps on giving," makes up a hiring freeze to force Louis to rescind his job offer to Maria.
Where's Mike during all this? Confronting the attorney who represented the other side in the drunk-driving accident that killed his parents. "What are you looking for from me?" the attorney asks, while Mike goes off on him for not knowing who he is or who his parents are. "If I ever see you again, you better remember who they are," he says, before he leaves.
In court to officially put forth the plea deal, Mike tells Katrina about Liam being stoned, but Katrina ignores that and proceeds with presenting the plea agreement, which the judge approves. Liam gets community service. A shocked Mike confronts Katrina outside the courtroom, but she also points out to Mike that he'd be violating privelege. Mike, however, doesn't care and reminds her about the not-exactly-bribe she asked for. It doesn't seem to matter. Back at the Pearson Hardman office, Donna asks Harvey "What did you do?" and an unruffled Harvey tells her that Katrina starts on Monday.
While Rachel kicks Louis out of her hotel room once he tells her about Jessica's apparent hiring freeze and she retorts that she heard about Harvey hiring Katrina, Mike confronts Harvey about the same decision. "You offered her a job to get her to do what you wanted," Mike snaps, and Harvey punches back by retorting that he did it to save Mike. "I've had it up to here with you blaming me for every hard choice that comes with this job," he continues. "The next time I have the option to cross a line to save you, I'll send you packing and not think twice. Now get your s--t together."
He has a very valid point, and Mike knows it as he leaves the office. He takes his anger out on Liam, throwing the finalized plea agreement at him and telling him to sort out his life, too. "You better clean yourself up and figure out a way to make up for Albert Chung," he insists.
Harvey shows up to see Zoe again, suggesting that they ought to go away together, but he's shocked by what she tells him. Zoe's brother Jason has cancer, and Zoe intends on going to her parents' and raising Olivia, effectively ending any chance she and Harvey have at a relationship. Unconcerned with that, Harvey pulls her into a hug and comforts her. At the same time, Mike starts pulling his head together, which begins with dumping Tess. Everyone's generally having a miserable evening.
"Blind-Sided" is an example of what makes Suits such great television. It contains a little bit of all the things that contribute to the show's success, and balances them all in a perfect alchemy. There are numerous scenes where there's a laugh-out-loud-worthy one-liner in one beat and something surprising or intriguing the next, capped off by the fact that the main storyline is genuinely moving. The show feels organic: like life, there are parts of it that are funny, parts that are surprising, and parts that are food for thought. There's nothing missing here.
Another strength is that the episode drops viewers right back into the Suits world as if we never left. It makes enough callbacks to the first half of the season for the audience to understand what's happening and why, and the characters retain their familiar feel. We don't need to get used to having them back again. Instead, we can enjoy the spot-on performances by the entire ensemble, who continue to be an outstanding group both together and apart. "Blind-Sided" shows exactly why Patrick J. Adams is one of TV's top up-and-comers - over the course of the hour, he takes us through Mike going off the rails and then forcing himself to get back on them again. The character's journey is palpable. Meanwhile, Gabriel Macht remains in the elite class of TV leading men, as much as the perennial Emmy nominees. There's almost nobody that commands a scene like he does, and at the same time, he's continued to dig deeper into Harvey Specter every season, while never going too far from the man we came to know and love a long time ago. Watching him work is like a master class in acting.
With this episode, Suits has set up intriguing new plotlines for the remaining six episodes. Many shows would have taken the arc from the first half of season two and made that the entire season. That's something that stands out about this series. It's faster, smarter and just plain stronger than your average drama. It continues to push the audience's expectations and deliver the best from a talented cast and crew. Believe the hype: this is just as good as advertised, possibly even better.
For more on Suits season 2.5, you can read my interview with Sarah Rafferty on what's next, and check out cast interviews from Monday night's Paley Center midseason premiere event. You can also read my article on why Suits is the best show on television.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Fanbolt with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.
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