Suits, you are a crafty little show. Last week, you showed me where your characters were heading; this week, you showed me where my favorite has been, and yanked pretty damn hard on my heartstrings besides. I didn't know I liked you this much until you punched me in the stomach. Ow.
Harvey - who makes one of the most awesome entrances in my recent memory in this episode - is reunited with his former boss, Cameron Dennis (the underrated Gary Cole). The chummy meeting reveals what was apparently a secret: that prior to joining Pearson Hardman, Harvey was a district attorney. When he shows up to meet Cameron for dinner, Harvey gets a nasty surprise: Alexandra (Alicia Coppola) now works for the Attorney General, and she's investigating Cameron for misconduct, including having Harvey subpoenaed.
This puts our hero in a difficult and contemplative place - he caught his mentor burying a key piece of evidence, and decided to leave the district attorney's office rather than report him. Harvey is nothing if not loyal; we learn that he and Donna go back further than Pearson Hardman, and that he's not planning on changing his tune. "I'm not going to be the one to expose him any more than I'd ever turn on you," he tells Jessica pointedly.
Yet when he realizes one of the cases Cameron was tampering with was a case that he was in charge of, he sets out to fix the damage himself and has a messy confrontation with his former boss, where insults are exchanged and images broken. By episode's end, the seemingly near-invulnerable Harvey has really, truly cracked, going entirely to pieces when he realizes that what Cameron did led to putting an innocent kid in prison. This episode makes what happened in "Play the Man" look lightweight; the last scene alone is one of the finest of the series to date.
Jessica breaks the news to Harvey and Louis that a tabloid editor has died and it's up to the two of them to divide his assets between his two feuding daughters, which results in bickering from the get-go; once the Cameron issue materializes, Harvey cuts Mike loose and leaves him to handle the messy situation on his own. At the same time, Mike's relationship with Jenny (Vanessa Ray) deteriorates as she realizes he has a thing for Rachel. Rachel isn't too thrilled with Mike either, and things between them fall apart shortly thereafter. It's a nice chance for Patrick J. Adams to continue to show Mike's tough side, but honestly, this isn't his episode.
Oh so very rarely there are perfect unions between actor and character - Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in 24, Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens in Justified, and Jason Clarke as Jarek Wysocki in The Chicago Code - and after tonight, I'm adding Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter to the short list. It was crystal clear to me from my interview with him that Macht puts an impressive level of thought into his character; that level of dedication really shows in this episode. Like all of the best actors I've had the pleasure of watching, he digs into the details and makes everything matter. Check out the look in Harvey's eyes when he first sees Cameron; you can read the emotions, which are even more poignant because we know the character won't voice them. It could have been a worthless frame, but for this character, with Macht's talent, it means everything.
I have to hand it to this show; it took awhile for the series to find its identity, and in turn to get a hold of me. Yet it almost seems fitting, because what we've watched is characters finding themselves. The show and the audience are taking a parallel journey in that sense. With this episode, for the first time, I felt like I was inside my favorite character's head, which allowed me to achieve the level of interest in a show that you only get when you can identify with it. A good show is one where you like the characters; a great one is one where you feel like they're real people, and tonight, Suits took that step from good to great.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved.