[This is a review of Suits Season 5, Episode 1. There will be SPOILERS.]
Suits is back - bigger and better than ever in season 5. It returns with big cases, earth-shattering revelations, sneak-attacks, passionate love affairs, ferocious rivalries, and deep bonds of affection amongst the lawyers of Pearson Spector & Litt. For Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) a lawyer's life is tumultuous and triumphant in turns, and they would not have it any other way. No matter whether they are fighting to save their firm from a former partner intent on taking them all down, a prosecutor abusing his authority for a personal vendetta, or in combating a ruthless corporate raider out to destroy one of their clients, Pearson Specter & Litt is ready for battle.
Everyone knew ripple-effects of Donna (Sarah Rafferty) leaving Harvey to work for Louis would be seismic, but they never foresaw how truly devastating it would be on Harvey. Once Harvey realized that Donna was never coming back, he had a full on breakdown, panic-attack. Her departure caused not only a physical effect on Harvey, but an emotional one as well. It rocked Harvey's world to find himself in a therapist chair and taking medication. It was not just the loss of Donna and the spiraling feeling of being out of control that hit Harvey like a ton of bricks, it was being forced to confront deep-seated feelings that he probably never thought he had. In the end, the result was not perhaps what fans may have wished for, as instead of admitting that he loved Donna enough to tell her and move on with a relationship with her, Harvey merely found the strength to move on without her. It was about Harvey finding his way again, without Donna.
The season 5 premiere is all about the nine stages of grief all wrapped up in one episode and watching Harvey emerge victorious on the other end, alone and yet in full control of his faculties and self-determined once again. It is about grief-recovery and re-empowerment. It has been cathartic for Harvey to talk about his feelings and face them, but it did not mean that he was going to change his stubborn, solitary, and self-determined life just because he lost his secretary - even one he cared about so deeply.
As star Gabriel Macht revealed in an interview with Screen Rant, Harvey was just not ready to embrace a relationship with Donna at this point in his life. Harvey first needs to see what life is like without her, before he can appreciate what his life would be with Donna at his side. Donna has always been the woman who has had his back and who was two steps ahead of him at the office, but having her in his personal life is just not a place Harvey is ready to allow, yet.
Harvey also has a lot on his mind with his latest case involving Kevin Slattery (Cornell Womack), a business owner whose case nearly blows up after Rachel (Meghan Markle) and Mike forgot to include some pivotal information. Harvey is always at his best when his back is up against the wall. He has assembled a crack-team and can trust that Mike and Rachel will find a way to fix the client's legal predicament before it is too late. But in this episode, Harvey had the added stress of losing Donna and his therapist's pressure to face his fears before his panic-attacks overtook him completely. Unwilling to lose one more thing in his life, Harvey pushed again and bullied everyone into doing their jobs and finding a solution. He even seemed to ignore the fact that Mike and Rachel had just gotten engaged. Yet that was just Harvey taking the time to process one thing at a time: he could not quite process Donna leaving him to work for Louis, so he was focusing on his client's case first. In the end, Harvey saved his client's company, helped Sean Cahill (Neal McDonough) corner Eric Woodall (Zeljko Ivanek) into helping him take down Charles Forstman (Eric Roberts), and found a heartfelt way to congratulate Mike on his engagement to Rachel.
Out of the box thinking is always what saves the day. So Mike took his high IQ and put it to good use and figured out that if the client sold the company name to the last creditor, that would be enough to save the company. In the end, the client lost the company name, but not the business as a whole. It was not a perfect solution, but the spirit of what the client wanted was achieved. Similarly, Harvey did not get exactly what he wanted, which was to have Donna back as his secretary and to have things return to normal, but he did find out that he was capable of moving on without her. His world had not literally come crashing down around him, it only felt like it. Harvey just needed to hire another secretary, get his phone messages and move on with his practice. His broken heart would one day mend, but in the meantime, his law practice could move forward.
Also adjusting to the sudden change in the office was Louis who was letting his natural insecurities and fears rule his behavior as he tried repeatedly to push Donna away, fearing she would ultimately return to Harvey. But try as he might, Donna would not budge. She made up her mind and was now Louis' secretary. She even had business cards made to that fact and endured every bit of abuse Louis heaped upon her as he tested her resolve to stay and work with him. Donna is made of sterner and more tenacious mettle than any amount of extra work and harsh words Louis could throw her way. She is Donna, after all. Plus, for Louis and for Donna, this was a life-choice. Louis' former secretary had just died and he needed Donna. Likewise, Donna could not bear to work for Harvey anymore after he had refused to pick up the gauntlet she had thrown at his feet. She needed a new "home." So now, Louis is "home." Donna needs that rock of stability in her life - someone who will always need her, but who she can protect her heart from.
With Donna, Harvey, and Louis embroiled in an emotional battle of wills, it left Mike, Rachel, and Jessica kind of at loss how to navigate and comfort them. It was like watching three tornadoes collide and wondering if anything would be left after the storm died down. Luckily, Mike and Rachel were in their love-cocoon, having just gotten engaged. They had endured the fall-out from Mike's secret and Mike's fears of Rachel going back to ex-boyfriend, so they were now in a solid enough place to weather the turbulence of the Harvey-Donna-Louis interoffice shift. Rachel was even willing to keep the engagement announcement to herself until the dust settled. Unfortunately, Jessica, fresh off her break up with Jeff Malone (D.B. Woodside) was feeling a bit raw and unstable, which made her a bit more short-tempered with Harvey and the near-fiasco with their client's case. In an interview with Screen Rant, star Gina Torres weighed in on Harvey's abandonment issues and whether it will lead to further complications this season. As Jessica ominously told Harvey, "If you can't figure out how to get s*** done without her, I will."
In the end, Donna and Louis celebrated with German chocolate cake to their newfound working relationship, Harvey tossed the anti-anxiety medication down the toilet, Donna remembered to give Rachel an engagement present and a thank you present for helping Harvey through the difficult transition, and Harvey took Mike to a Nets game to celebrate their win and Mike and Rachel's engagement. One could say it all ends well, but this is just episode 1 of season 5. Surely, there is more yet to play out involving the Cahill-Woodall-Forstman situation, and Harvey's search for a new secretary and desire to adjust to life without Donna will not be smooth sailing. After all, Donna could read Harvey like a book - those shoes might be just too big to fill. Here is to seeing what the next big earthquake will be in the world of Pearson Specter & Litt, and may they continue weather each storm just as successfully.
Suits continues next Wednesday with 'Compensation' @9:00pm on USA Network.