Elsewhere, Rachel and Louis run into each other at the ballet and discuss Donna, and it's surprising to hear Louis ask how Donna is and say that he's tried to phone her since she was fired. The two of them are soon working together on behalf of the ballet, which gives Rachel a chance to step outside of her paralegal box and into associate work. Louis is crushed when he uncovers that their client was funneling money from the ballet into his own personal account, then - after a pep talk from Rachel - gets the man bumped off and the money back in all the right places. It's a nice change of pace to see Louis be the hero as opposed to the antagonist to Harvey or Mike's heroics.
Unfortunately, any respect gained for Louis is short-lived when Mike discovers Louis recorded a damning conversation between himself and Harvey from earlier this season, and tells Harvey. Just because Louis does one good deed doesn't mean he's suddenly an angel, which is both perfectly in character and strangely disappointing. It's also awesome to see Harvey use that as future leverage against Louis. (Who wasn't more than a little bit scared when Harvey got into Louis' face? Gabriel Macht has that much presence, ladies and gentlemen.)
Jessica isn't thrilled with where Harvey is or developments in the fraud case, namely that the presiding judge has a grudge against her stemming from a law school prank. She first tries to get the other woman recused, starting with creating a conflict of interest by contributing to the judge's re-election campaign. When that backfires, the only way Jessica can get what she wants is to admit that the prank was in fact intentional sabotage of the other woman's chances at a job they both wanted. Is she telling the truth or lying to win? We don't know, and we don't need to know. It's more interesting not to know.
One of the things I've always said when it comes to television is that one great episode is a wonderful thing, but it's much more impressive if a series can build on that and make it mean something. There are a number of smart plays here, namely that Donna stays gone but is still acknowledged; a quick fix would have rendered her dismissal basically pointless, but her character is too important for her absence not to be felt - and felt significantly. (Harvey's expression when he meets his temporary new assistant is priceless.) We can see and feel the difference that results because Donna isn't there, especially with Harvey.
Which leads me to a familiar refrain with this show: watching the character of Harvey Specter grow is one of the true delights of television. I'm fascinated by this character - how his mind works, how he became the man he is, how he interacts with some characters as opposed to others. I love him when he wins, but I feel for him when he doesn't, too. To see him have a few cracks in the armor, whether they're as severe as Jessica thinks or not, is just another example of him continuing to evolve with the show. If he wasn't affected with all the problems he's facing right now, I'd be concerned. Yet he continues to feel real, and that's up to some excellent writing as well as the continual brilliance of Gabriel Macht, who keeps showing us everything going on with the character whether it's actually in the dialogue or not.
Let's take a moment to appreciate the fantastic guest stars in this episode, too. I remember Scott Grimes fondly from his role as Dr. Archie Morris on ER (and he happens to be an excellent musician as well). He is so good at playing that guy you love to hate (which is funny because, as is often the case, he is an incredibly nice guy in real life). I wanted to punch Tommy in the face, and I mean that as a compliment toward Scott's acting.
Then there's Peter Outerbridge, who spent most of this past season on Nikita as the wonderfully villainous Ari Tasarov, and then comes over to Suits and plays a character completely different; I wouldn't have known it was the same actor if I hadn't previously heard of his casting. His ability to create distinct characters has always impressed me. Then there's Erinn Hayes, who goes a bit underused given that she's only in one scene, but it's good to see her regardless. Things will continue to be great next week, when Jacinda Barrett (Gabriel Macht's wife and an excellent actress in her own right) arrives as someone else Harvey shares a past with.
We also see a potential future arc for Rachel as she tries her hand at being an associate. Having known since last season that she wants to be more than a paralegal, it's intriguing to see how she does when she actually has the opportunity to advance, even if only for a case.
And as icing on the cake, as a former amateur poker player and World Poker Tour analyst, I appreciated the show using proper poker terminology - and throwing in a Phil Ivey name-check besides. Suits always takes the time to get it right, and that shows even in small ways. But this show does a lot right. When cast, writers and crew members are putting in their best efforts, you can tell, and that kind of quality effort is all over Suits.
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my Starpulse writer page and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.