It’s no secret that some viewers (yours truly) have been underwhelmed by the events of what has thus far been a messy, overstuffed season. However, ‘Shake The Trees’ uses its recurring characters sparingly and gives each of the main players a chance to shine, making for the strongest episode since the premiere.
Harvey continues to go to great lengths to sabotage his own client, not only putting on a highly convincing performance in front of the judge and Sutter’s employees, but also hand-delivering a key witness to Sean Cahill to undermine Sutter’s defence. Aside from hiring a fraudulent lawyer, in six seasons we have never witnessed Harvey so blatantly cross ethical boundaries before. He has become so completely fixated on the possibility of Mike’s early release that he’s getting reckless, visiting Mike in prison every other day and raising suspicion with Frank Gallo, conspiring with Cahill out in the open and even involving Louis and Donna to uncover evidence. Harvey is oddly more invested in Mike’s release than Mike himself.
Typically, Donna would be the person to deter Harvey from such unscrupulous behaviour, but it’s rather telling that Harvey has shared the majority of his scenes with Sean Cahill this season, rather than the people who would normally humanise him. Given that the mid-season finale is only three short episodes away, Harvey’s actions are bound to blow up in his face and will no doubt drive the events of the latter half of the season. Considering Harvey is so inclined to repeat his mistakes, it’s going to make for a slew of satisfying episodes when he is forced to confront the hard truth that he hasn’t learned a single thing from Mike’s arrest.
This episode is a lot kinder to Donna, giving her the opportunity to intersect with the A plot, even if she is still being used to prop up other characters’ storylines. Her brief phone conversation with Mike is a lovely little reminder that they still share a friendship outside of Harvey and Rachel. The plot thread of her favour is left dangling this episode, but will presumably rear its head in a later episode. Series creator Aaron Korsch has made repeated use of the in-house stock traders in recent weeks – likely drawing inspiration from his own time spent on Wall Street.
Stu makes another appearance, this time receiving a good old-fashioned dressing down from Donna that finally sparks him to resolve his ongoing feud with Louis. Speaking of Louis, he dedicates most of his time agonising over his date with Tara, which takes a very surprising turn. Donna and Louis commiserate over their fledging love lives, sharing another one of their heart to hearts, but this one feels earned, even if Donna’s breakup with Mitchell doesn’t. This boyfriend was mentioned a total of once before now – what purpose could an off-screen breakup possibly serve?
After Rachel receives the devastating news that Leonard Bailey’s execution date has been set, both she and Jessica work to locate the missing witness from his trial and delay his execution. Rachel is also tasked with handling the fallout of representing a man who has been condemned as a murderer, which includes getting harassed by the father of one of the victims. Rachel has never exactly had thick skin, but Jessica is the perfect person to groom her into becoming an incredible lawyer. It’s a shame that it has taken so long to pair these two women together, although it realistically couldn’t have happened with Mike still firmly in the picture and Harvey as Jessica’s protégée. Without the regular comradery of Harvey and Mike, Jessica and Rachel are proving to be an excellent substitute for the mentor/mentee dynamic that has always characterised Suits. Hopefully they did follow through on their plan to get drunk at a dive bar.
As the hiatus draws closer, Suits regains its footing after several wobbly episodes. Every time I think I’m about to quit this goddamn show, it reels me right back in.
THE REEL SCORE: 8/10