This is turning into panem et circenses. This is the Hunger Games, for crying out loud! Everyone’s fighting everyone else on a weekly basis, and hardly any of it makes sense. Yes, the firm was fighting for survival after the Hardman situation. Yes, everything pretty much went to shit. Does that mean that some people need to have their heads quite this far up their own asses? Not really.
If the writers wanted to generate conflict within the bullpen, then, for the love of Clom, they should have picked something that wasn’t as absolutely contrived and utterly ridiculous as Katrina and that stupid video. And then, they wanted Mike and Rachel to retaliate with Facebook photos, are you shitting me? I am well aware that adults in the workplace are liable to stoop to anything, but this storyline was completely unnecessary. It didn’t further the plot except that it pushed Louis to accept Katrina as his #2 on the Hessington case. One episode later, in light of Mike and Katrina’s sudden truce, it becomes completely obsolete. They suddenly needed a reason for Katrina to be more likeable again so the next plot line would pan out, that’s all.
Also, maybe it’s because I’m German, but that… “prank” Donna pulled on Louis at the beginning of episode 1, with the ink-beard and the raising the right arm — what the hell was that? One, I find it hard to believe that that’s actually Donna’s sense of humour; and two, it’s another (and particularly distasteful) in a long line of instances where the show does not let up in making fun of Louis, and not in a good way. They constantly build him up only to tear him down. We get so many glimpses into Good Guy Louis, into Mamabear Louis, even, and then… they throw shit in his face. Every single time. I mean, what, he’s mini-Hitler now? And then Mike goes and goads him with “Oh Captain, my Captain”… Remember that episode where Harvey interrupted Louis’ skype session with his parents? His mother was about to say, “Oh, is that Harvey? Put him on, I want to meet your best friend.” Louis told his parents that he and Harvey were friends. I know that a lot of people choose to take that as pathetic. But when you’re on the outside looking in, it isn’t. Yeah, Louis was a douche at the beginning, but the more I got to see of him, the more I like him and understand him. Yes, he’s pulling dick moves a lot of the time. Of course recording Mike and Harvey was terrible, but Mike and Rachel shouldn’t have listened to the rest of his recordings. Rachel and Louis kicked ass on the ballet case, and Mike and Louis kicked ass on their case in episode 2. Perhaps I’m missing something, perhaps that’s what the show is telling us, that their treatment of Louis is unfair. But the show also means for us to identify with Harvey and Mike most; and even though Harvey once told Louis, “You’re the man,” they’re ridiculing his every move. Now, who is the audience going to listen to?
Episode 4 pulled it the other way around, it pitted Louis’ failing at Cool Jogging Like Harvey against his desperate attempt to convince Jessica to let him fix the Hessington conundrum so that Eva, not guilty on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, could keep her company. Except Jessica didn’t let him, which isn’t a problem for Harvey, because he knows that he acted on orders from Jessica, but it’s going to be a problem for Mike and Katrina, who don’t know that. And there goes another bit of Louis’ standing in the firm. Blaming Louis for the conflict is missing the point, because he is mostly reacting to the unrest that others cause, mostly Jessica and Harvey. Did you see his face when Jessica and Harvey were arguing about the Hessington case? He was so upset that as a reaction, he went to Jessica about going behind Harvey’s back. He’s not stupid, he’s going to realise soon enough that something’s up.
Harvey & Mike, aka “the Prom King and his Boy Wonder”
It took Harvey an analogous case, prompting from both Eva and Donna, and several severe mood swings to convince Mike to come back “where he belongs.” I think that idea was to see Harvey struggle throughout the episode, to have him realise what a nincompoop he’s been by the time Mike reaches his decision about Louis. Mike and Harvey’s big fight about two thirds into the episode blew that plan to hell, though. With that taken into account, Harvey changing his mind rests solely on Donna’s shoulders. While I’m not about to detract from Donna’s credit on this, it highlights how hugely this season’s narrative is driven by his pride and nothing else. I’m beginning to think it’s not enough to carry an entire arc.
It highlights how volatile Harvey is when he thinks he’s been wronged, and how that, originally, stems from the same place as Louis’ insecurities. He cares. He wants the trust of the people he cares about, and that’s what he wasn’t getting from either Jessica or Mike — or so he thinks. He wasn’t upset that Mike didn’t do what he told him to, he was upset that Mike didn’t tell him about Jessica’s threat; and he’s upset that Jessica didn’t value his counsel above all others, including her own judgement to secure the firm’s future survival. Mike wanted to protect Harvey, wanted to keep this one problem away from him because he already had so much on his plate. And perhaps that’s Harvey’s own fault.
In the beginning, he turned Mike away when he hit a problem he needed help with, he turned him away so consistently that Mike turned to others and either got played by Copy Card Guy, or landed on his face in Housing Court. While Harvey has been, sort of, trying to make amends for this, has tried telling Mike that if he ever hits a wall (or a wall hits him), his first stop is Harvey… Mike remembers. He remembers everything, so not just the bit where Harvey took on the guy who assaulted Mike in the street, but also the bit where Harvey snapped at him to solve his own problems. When Jessica threatened to blackmail him, Mike reverted back to that.
But then, Harvey turns up in Louis’ office to tell Mike to come back, and there he goes.
Harvey & Jessica
Harvey can’t bear to lose. And now he’s lawyered himself into a corner painted with pride and conceived betrayal, so that he’s not only not seeing the forest for all the trees, but he’s also not seeing the big fat door labelled EXIT.
At least that’s how it seems. What if Harvey is playing pretty much everyone? Just a thought…
This show is built on Harvey and Mike, but it’s also built on Harvey and Donna, and Harvey and Jessica. I have to admit that part of my personal dissatisfaction with where the show is going is my inherent desire for harmony between my favourite characters. There are minefields cropping up everywhere, and only sensible people like Donna and Rachel seem capable of talking things through so that the conflict is actually resolved. It also renders me increasingly indifferent to Harvey’s man pain. Jessica is essential to this show, and I don’t know how they’re going to credibly salvage this (I just really hope they are).
Mike & Rachel (& Donna)
I adore Rachel because she sticks to her guns. She’s honest and straightforward, and so many things that Mike isn’t. In short, he doesn’t deserve her, but here we are anyway. I spent a lot of time during Season 2 yelling at Mike that he’s a dipshit and I still stand by my assessment. So many bad decisions, I hardly know which one to pick….
Anyway, if Rachel could be the brains in this relationship, that would be fantastic. But the one thing I need the show to stop doing: that completely reductive up-her-legs shot of Rachel at the beginning of episode 3. For all that this show is writing its women pretty well, this sequence along with the reverse shot of Mike obviously watching Rachel was the male gaze incarnate. To borrow Inkie’s phrase, it reduces Rachel to a “sex kitten,” and in combination with her being unable to reach the top shelf and Mike having to get the granola bars for her… it’s cheap and stupid and unbecoming of Rachel’s character and profile. It also contradicts the show’s good handling of (edit: sorry, my bad, I meant: ) Donna’s confident attitude and positive agency while calling the shots in her relationship with Stephen Huntley.
What I don’t understand, in episode 2, is Donna’s reaction to Rachel asking her to put in a good word for Mike with Harvey. Donna and Mike had the exact same motives for “betraying” Harvey: they wanted to protect him, and Donna even argued the same for why she told Mike to get over Rachel at first. It doesn’t make sense to me that she’d be so relentlessly opposed to Mike being forgiven. It’s resolved now, yes, but I didn’t get it. It felt as though, again, something was exacerbated only because the writers needed to generate drama between Rachel and Donna on top of everything else.
Donna & Stephen Huntley, aka a steamy affair with “British Harvey”
I like him. I like them. I really hope this isn’t going to end in utter heartbreak for either of them. Excuse me while I stare at Max Beesley, squealing.
Next episode: Shadow of a Doubt.