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'Suits' 1.09 'Undefeated' Review

Brittany Frederick Brittany Frederick
August 18th, 2011 11:14pm EDT

I've got to hand it to the people behind Suits. At first glance, I wasn't sold on this show - it still reminds me of a newish White Collar, only with lawyers - but armed with two solid lead actors, it's improved each week. Now add great guest stars to the mix? I'm hooked.

Suits

Without A Trace star Eric Close turns up this week as Travis Tanner, who waltzes into Harvey's office and introduces himself as the competition in a class-action lawsuit. (Donna refers to him as "that tennis-playing douchebag.") Tanner strikes an early low blow when he brings up a shoulder injury that kept Harvey from pitching in the state baseball championship in high school, and from that point forward, Harvey can't wait to beat him.

This involves pulling out many weapons in his considerable arsenal; he calls on private investigator Vanessa (that's vastly underrated former Line of Fire star Julie Ann Emery) who tips him off that Tanner's called all the plaintiffs to the Waldorf Astoria to hear a settlement offer. Once Harvey turns up to break up the party, Tanner simply pretends that he's having a (very loud) conversation with opposing counsel. Harvey is not amused.

Vanessa fights back by obtaining an incriminating - but illegal - wiretap of the phones at Tanner's firm. It raises the question: what's more important, victory or integrity? It's enjoyable to watch Tanner get the screws put to him; within the hour, Close and the writers create a guy that we want to see knocked down. Macht clearly has fun with Harvey being the one to do it - and when the actors have fun, so does the audience.

Also in the mix this week, Louis is on the hunt for a mole within Pearson Hardman. That's how we meet The Game star Pooch Hall, playing Jimmy, another associate who has his eye on the $10,000 bounty Louis offers for the identity of the traitor. Rachel is wrongly fingered, quickly gets suspended, and is soon interviewing with the enemy. Unsurprisingly - being that he's the guest star - it's Jimmy who's the real culprit and under pressure he confesses to Mike. "Haven't you ever cut some corners? Done some things you regretted?" he says, and we all know the answer to that, which makes a great moment between Pooch Hall and Patrick J. Adams all the more poignant.

In perhaps Meghan Markle's best scene all season, Rachel gives Louis an earful when she comes back to the firm, and drives a hard bargain for her return.

Much like White Collar, the core of Suits is its two lead characters, and everyone and everything else is just in their sandbox. While Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams aren't quite Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer, they're pretty damn good. There's a chemistry between them that is appealing, and sure to get better in time. For example, Harvey and Mike's "game film" banter is wonderful ("You have Michael Jordan's phone number?").

I loved Macht when he co-starred with Daniel Craig in Archangel, and his performance here - just the right side of snarky and slick to keep me loving instead of loathing him - is enough to get me to overlook that he was the star of that weak sequel to SWAT. He's emerged as someone I get excited about watching on a weekly basis.

I hadn't seen Adams in anything before this, but I like what I've seen; he's fresh-faced but not naive, pushing back when he's pushed. He and Macht make a very watchable pair; I honestly want to see what the two of them do next. (Plus, I enjoy that Gina Torres has finally found a lasting post-Firefly supporting role that is worthy of her talents, as much as I loved her in Standoff.)

As someone with a legal background, the show does rankle me a bit, because there are parts of it that either irritate me or push the limits of plausibility. The entire premise of the series is itself one of those times where the phrase "dramatic license" gets invoked. I'm willing to take some leaps of faith, but not a freefall - so I hope Suits doesn't reach too far to tell its stories.

Once that's set aside, though, I'm definitely intrigued by the show's outstanding leads, and scripts that at least give them plenty to chew on. As the season winds down, I can only imagine that the characters will continue to develop, the scripts will refine, and it can only go up from here. USA has definitely won me over again with Suits.

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Photo Credits: USA


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