After just four short episodes, Suits begins to drop hints that the series will soon return to something resembling the status quo. It was a bold move sending Mike to prison at the end of season five, particularly with the bittersweet reveal that the jury would have found Mike innocent. Realistically, Mike’s stint in prison was never going to last the full two years, at least without a flash-forward. For a series so fond of flashbacks, it’s surprising that the writers rarely make use of time-jumps.
In TV time, Mike has probably only been in prison for a little under a month, but with the assistance of prosecutor Sean Cahill, Harvey is determined to get Mike released well before the mid-season finale. In exchange for an early release, Mike is required to inform on his cellmate, Kevin, the one friend he has made in prison. As Mike has proved time and time again, he prioritises loyalty above all else, so he is understandably reluctant to turn on a friend to guarantee his freedom. With a time-clock on the offer, Harvey pulls a completely unrealistic stunt to break Mike out of prison and give him one afternoon with Rachel to compel him to change his mind.
Louis once again provides the comic relief for the episode, as he is besotted by the architect (Tara Messer, played by Carly Pope) he wants to hire to redesign the PSL offices. Considering the fact that the firm was forced to lease out their offices just to stay afloat, Louis is plainly deluded if he thinks they have the cash for a remodel. In contrast with the prison storyline, this subplot feels very out of place. While the season premiere deftly balanced humour with pathos, each subsequent episode has had a real problem with maintaining tone. Suits could use some romance though, especially since Harvey and Donna can’t get their shit together and Jessica ended things with Jeff Malone. Louis can be damn earnest when he wants to and the poor guy deserves a decent relationship after the heartbreak with Sheila Sazs.
This week also sees Rachel begin her work on the innocent’s project, representing an inmate on death row. As always, Rachel shines when she isn’t crying over her semi-doomed relationship with Mike. As kickass as the women of Suits are, they are too frequently defined by their relationships to the male protagonists of the show. When was the last time Donna made it through an episode without giving Harvey or Louis a pep talk? Hell, Meghan Markle (Rachel) had to advise the executive producers during season three that she didn’t want to be stripping off for the camera every second episode. Mike, Harvey and even Louis are allowed to be layered and complex, even when it means they come off as unlikeable. Rachel and Donna are rarely afforded such a luxury.
Jessica on the other hand, is typically given meatier storylines, which could mean any number of things, but perhaps is indicative of the fact that her character is in a real position of power. Gina Torres is continually fantastic and having her butt heads with loud-mouth trader Stu (Ian Reed Kesler) is a fun aside throughout the episode.
If Mike is indeed released from prison in the coming episodes, it would be disappointing for the series to revert back to the same pattern and formula it always has. Suits is great at blowing things up, but it never follows through long enough to remain compelling throughout the length of a sixteen-episode season. Slotting Mike back into Pearson Specter Litt wouldn’t make any sense given recent events. With the news of a renewal for a seventh season, perhaps Suits will finally commit to a change of pace.
THE REEL SCORE: 6/10