I love Suits. I think it is one of the best shows USA has ever produced, and arguably in the top tier of legal dramas on television. There is levity, sharp wit and enough goddamns to make you believe this is actually a workplace populated by real people who face real stakes in real designer clothes that you can only afford if you work for the top law firm in New York City. So with it’s return on Tuesday night, it is pretty easy to admit my excitement. The third season picks up almost immediately where the second season left off, with the merger of Pearson Darby.
Continuing with its tradition of top notch guest stars, Conleth Hill returns as Edward Darby in the season opener and brings along fellow Game of Thrones alum Michelle Fairley as a client in need of Harvey’s (Gabriel Macht) legal expertise. Brilliant as always, Fairley doesn’t actually appear in the episode until the second half but her character’s plight is the backdrop for an amnesty between Harvey and Darby. Jessica (Gina Torres) is concerned after her conversation with Harvey at the end of last season that he will do something rash in order to force her to make a choice yet again between her firm and his ego, but through some deft manipulation on Darby’s part, Harvey has a realization about what his true priorities are and how he intends to obtain them.
One of the shining stars of Suits is Louis Litt, (Rick Hoffman) who has his own dilemma following a decision to betray his British counterpart Nigel Nesbitt (Adam Godley) last season. The unexpected resolution of the conflict leaves Louis adrift in a way we have not yet seen and clearly sets up the season for a dynamic back and forth that will give Hoffman plenty of opportunity to display all of our favorite ways in which things can be “Litt Up”. Hopefully many of these moments will include Louis plotting with Donna (Sarah Rafferty) because their dynamic is always entertaining and this episode illustrates that perfectly with a moment concerning the sanctity of Uni-ball pens.
The premiere also addresses the inevitable fallout from Mike (Patrick J. Adams) choosing to let the merger go through instead of intervening as Harvey told him to do, as well as the more personal fallout for Mike of his revelation to Rachel (Meghan Markle) that he never went to Harvard.
We are left to assume at the end of season two that Rachel and Mike will be together in the premiere, but things are never what they seem at Pearson Darby. Clearly there are issues that need to be resolved between the two before anything more than a release of sexual tension can develop, which adds to Mike’s sense of insecurity now that he has cast his fate with Jessica. The dangers of a relationship between Mike and Rachel are hinted at throughout the episode, and while the conversations never quite reach a depth that emotionally satisfies the year and a half of build up, Rachel is able to deliver a pointed dose of reality to Mike that Pearson Darby is not the world – just the world he chooses to live in, and he must decide what that means for their future. While Rachel and Mike attempt to sort out their personal relationship, we are allowed a glimpse into Rachel’s private life that is simple but should not be taken for granted after two years of really only seeing her in the light of her profession as a paralegal. *Spoiler Alert* Rachel is a neat freak.
Mike drives change on the show and by extension is constantly evolving and growing as a character so it will be refreshing to know it appears that they have finally decided to address his inability to recognize that while his motivations may be pure or well-intentioned, he frequently cannot seem to make a decision that isn’t in some aspect motivated to by his own self interests.
What happened at the end of last season has real consequences beyond Harvey simply being angry with Mike and extends into the realm of questioning his character. When he is confronted by Donna for his selfish behavior (in arguably one of the strongest scenes of the night), Rafferty is able to bring a real sense of betrayal and frustration to the exchange. Donna is not merely frustrated over Mike’s decision to trade his loyalty to Harvey for the security of keeping his job and continued rationalization for his behavior, because by betraying Harvey, he revealed he would betray anyone who had been loyal to him if it came down to it. The exchange clearly illustrates how immature Mike’s understanding of the fallout really is, and Donna delivers the message as simply as possible. Loyalty is the currency Harvey deals in throughout every episode and with this exchange, there is the hope that Mike will finally understand why allowing Jessica to win, right or wrong, has cost him his relationship with Harvey.