After putting our hearts in our throats with its last episode, Suits switches gears as it referees battles both inside and outside of Pearson Specter.
Having narrowly escaped the complete destruction of his life last week, Mike is feeling exceedingly grateful toward Rachel and Harvey, and wants to make a gesture to thank his boss. Donna tells Mike that there’s “one thing Harvey has been wanting to get for years and he hasn’t been able to.” What is that? Victory, of course. Mike uncovers a law school rival that’s been ducking Harvey for the past ten years, and sets up a rematch.
Speaking of Harvey’s law school acquaintances, Scottie is officially introduced to the firm as its newest senior partner at a morning meeting, and immediately steps up to take the lead on a transaction for one of Louis’s clients. Now Louis has someone other than Harvey to feud with. “As far as I’m concerned, Dana Scott is dead to me,” he gripes to Jessica, who points out that Louis seems to make enemies of his colleagues and could set a different precedent here. Instead, Louis and Scottie mutually pick a fight with each other – he’s territorial and she wants to establish herself as more than “the partner sleeping with Harvey Specter.” And she’s willing to put her boyfriend in the middle to do it.
Harvey’s nemesis A. Elliot Stemple (Patrick Fischler, Mob City) refers to him as a “skirt-chasing degenerate” just before discovering that he’s about to face both Harvey and Mike in court. This makes him invent an excuse about an ill niece in a panicked attempt to get off the case, but Mike points out that said family member doesn’t exist (which nets Stemple a hefty fine for lying to the judge). Stemple visits Pearson Specter after hours to plead with Mike not to take away the one “little piece of glory” he has – having beaten Harvey three times in moot court at Harvard. “I hate my wife, my children are anchors, and the only reason I stay at that firm is to pay for them to leave me alone,” he quips, and whether you believe him or not, that’s hilarious.
An enraged Louis – egged on by an email that Scottie sent from Harvey’s computer – enlists the help of his sidekick Katrina Bennett (a returning Amanda Schull). It says something about Scottie’s character that even the conniving Katrina seems irritated by how she plays the game.
The not-so-mild-mannered Stemple starts pulling out the knives in a deposition, bringing up not just his previous victories against Harvey, but the lawsuit that Ava Hessington filed against the firm. He also taunts Harvey that “my independent analyst will come up with anything that I want him to say.” Unfortunately for our heroes, that incriminating sentence wasn’t picked up by the camcorder taping the deposition. But Stemple doesn’t know that, so he’s twitchy when Mike and Harvey take that statement to the judge, who takes them at their word given the lawyer’s previous history of lying to him.
Stemple offers Harvey a settlement, but Harvey’s not interested because of their past history, referring to him as “a coward” who’s too afraid to beat him for a fourth time. Pushed over the edge by Harvey’s words, Stemple snaps, admitting that he cheated during his moot court victories, because Harvey’s “an arrogant bastard who skated through life without a care in the world.” That doesn’t sound all that implausible.
Louis does a fantastic job torpedoing Scottie’s business lunch with the client, right down to whipping out the “she’s new” line. “If somebody doesn’t back down, this isn’t going to end well,” Donna advises Louis. She should’ve given that speech to Scottie, too, because the other woman is only throwing fuel on the fire herself. She and Louis have another testy confrontation in the break room that involves Louis comparing her to the devil.
The next day in court, Stemple suddenly declares his intention to file a patent infringement countersuit against Harvey’s client. He finds Harvey and Mike on the street to tell Harvey that he lied about cheating in moot court and has them on the ropes. Harvey admits to Jessica that Stemple’s got his number, and he needs her help. “Do you want to beat him or do you want to settle?” she responds, before Mike strides into the room and announces that “what [Stemple] wants, what he really wants, has nothing to do with you.” Uh, okay.
Mike and Harvey tell Stemple that he’s going to drop the countersuit and his company will admit to wrongdoing, and pay up a certain sum of money before he winds up in trouble for corporate espionage. Yep, it all comes down to business, it’s not personal. Stemple knows he’s caught, and capitulates. It’s a major victory, even as Jessica breaks the news to Mike that he can publicly have no part of it because it would shine a spotlight on him.
And as we wrap things up, Louis calls in the favor he got from Harvey for not drop-kicking Mike in order to get Harvey to hand him back the case that Scottie took from him. Harvey reluctantly tells Scottie to give up the case, and she bristles when he won’t tell her what’s motivating that decision. When she asks if she’s talking to her boyfriend or a name partner, he says she’s talking to a name partner.
The A-story in “Moot Point” is one of those instances where it takes awhile to really get the, well, point. At first, we found ourselves asking, ‘Didn’t we go down the law school rival road when Scottie was introduced?’ But if you step back and think about it a moment more, you realize that it’s likely Harvey ticked off a lot of people at Harvard, especially since it’s been established he was not the most straight-arrow student there (and that’s putting it lightly). Given what we know about his history (and even who Harvey is now), it’s hard to argue with Stemple’s characterization of pre-canon Specter. It’s important to remember that he may be our hero, but that doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy.
It helps that Fischler does a great job of making Stemple a guy we love to hate. We hate him almost as much as Travis Tanner, possibly moreso because at least Tanner isn’t so sneaky about his jerkdom. We don’t necessarily learn anything from this particular case, except that he’s a tool who is rightfully put in his place, but sometimes there doesn’t have to be a moral of the story. Sometimes, after an episode that made us want to start drinking, you just need a good slugfest.
We wish we could speak with more confidence about the B-story. While it’s a great idea to give Louis someone other than Harvey to go up against, the plotline itself comes off as one-sided, wanting us to favor Scottie – who’s just as much if not a bigger bully than Louis. She talks about wanting to be more than Harvey’s girlfriend, but she’s not afraid to use him (or at least his email) when it suits her.
Then Donna tells Louis that he should ease up on Scottie because she’s got enough baggage from leaving Darby International to “be Harvey’s girlfriend.” But that’s a decision she made for her personal life; why should that give her a pass in her professional one? You could equally argue that she should be told to let up because she’s picking a fight just to prove something. Yet Louis (and we by extension) are told that this is supposed to be complimentary. Not that Louis is blameless either, but this plot doesn’t do either character any favors.
Even going to the very last scene – Scottie asks Harvey whether she’s talking to her boyfriend or to a name partner. Common sense and professionalism says that she should consider him the latter at work and the former only outside of it. Yet the way she behaves suggests that she doesn’t see any distinction between the two. We’ve had three episodes of this relationship now, and everything we’ve seen so far suggests this is going to self-destruct. Or at least it should.
But we’re happy to put all that aside, because we’re already scared by the previews for next week. Without spoiling too much, we wouldn’t make plans next week if we were you. And we’d invest in Kleenex.
Suits continues next Thursday at 9 PM ET/PT on USA.