Season 5, Episode 1
Air Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 9/8c on USA
“Did you really think that if you just acted like I changed my mind that I’d change my mind?” – Donna
The season four finale of Suits concluded with Donna (Sarah Rafferty) breaking the news to Harvey (Gabriel Macht) that she was leaving him to work with Louis (Rick Hoffman). While shocking, given their past, I assumed the move would be temporary when Donna realizes the error of her ways and quickly returns to Harvey’s side. Well, you know what happens when you assume, right?
Suits has always been a strong drama but “Denial” raises the series to a whole new level. The premiere is unlike anything fans have seen before and the style of storytelling takes a unique approach. We see characters as we have never seen them before, adding more depth to each one‘s personality. While this sounds like drastic changes are afoot, the essence of what makes Suits such a great show remains the same.
Harvey and Louis are two very different people and watching Donna skillfully maneuver between them is fascinating. Rafferty’s performance is one of her finest as Donna tries to ensure Harvey’s well-being while showing Louis she’s in for the long haul. Rafferty pulls off the delicate balancing act with grace and charm. This shouldn’t be a surprise; after all – she’s Donna.
As much as Louis can be a pain in the ass, it’s difficult not to feel for him. Louis has been burned by broken promises before so it’s no surprise that he approaches the news about Donna with caution. With the emotions conveyed by Louis building up over the past four seasons, the audience, who has invested so deeply in Hoffman’s character, gets quite a reward with “Denial.” Hoffman’s execution is outstanding as Louis torments not only himself but others as well because he’s convinced this is all an elaborate ruse by Harvey.
I was surprised by how well the chemistry between Harvey and Donna transfers over to Louis and Donna. Sure, Louis and Donna have had many powerful scenes together in the past, but I always felt the bond between Harvey and Donna was extra special. As much as it pains me to say it, Donna’s move from being Harvey’s assistant to Louis’ feels right for everyone involved.
I got a real kick out of Donna and Louis in the restaurant. It reminded me of a similar scene between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Donna and Louis are hilarious together, especially when Donna messes with Louis’ head! Donna’s relationship with Harvey was always so serious; it’s nice to see Donna and Louis being so light-hearted. Let’s hope it continues.
Despite the ups and downs the firm has faced through the seasons, nothing ever seemed to faze Harvey, until now. Much like Samson without his hair, Donna’s departure reveals chinks in the armor of Harvey’s tough personality. Macht’s performance is gripping as Harvey struggles to accept Donna is truly leaving him.
Donna’s separation from Harvey does have its advantages, though, namely strengthening the bond between Harvey and Mike (Patrick J. Adams). Harvey turns to Mike for a much needed distraction and the two team up to save Kevin Slattery’s (Cornell Womack) trucking company from the brink of bankruptcy. Adams and Macht are at the top of their game in “Denial” with the way the witty banter flows so fluidly between the two. With the execution of dialogue so well timed, it’s easy to forget their scenes are scripted.
The friendship between Rachel (Meghan Markle) and Donna is also given a chance to grow as both find themselves making life-altering changes. Much like Harvey and Mike’s bromance, Rachel and Donna have a very special sisterhood bond. With Donna no longer working for Harvey, I wonder how she will feel when Rachel increases her workload to help him.
Despite being in denial over Donna’s departure, her absence takes an emotional toll on Harvey. “Denial” introduces us to Dr. Paula Agard (Christina Cole), a therapist who has Harvey pegged from the beginning. Watching Agard draw out Harvey’s vulnerable side as she confronts him with some harsh realities is riveting television. There’s something mysterious about Agard; I can’t help but wonder whether Agard is real or simply a coping mechanism Harvey invents to handle difficult situations. After all, Harvey always processes everything internally to avoid exposing any real feelings.
As season five approached, I assumed the premiere would be a vindictive, backstabbing slugfest between Louis and Harvey. Instead, the opposite happens in “Denial,” which is an emotionally charged, character driven episode that is powerful to watch. Looks like season five is going to be every bit as good, if not better, than seasons past.
Tweet me @staffaroadtrip or leave a comment below to let me know what you think about “Denial.”
Tune in to Suits Wednesdays at 9/8c, only on USA Network.
For more on the show, go to http://www.usanetwork.com/series/suits/.
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Photos: © 2015 USA Network, LLC, a division of NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2015, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.
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