Jul 25 2015

Suits – “Toe to Toe” Retrospective. Like Old Times.


Season 5, Episode 5

Air Date: Wednesday, July 22, 2015, 9/8c on USA


“I’m not Donna.” – Gretchen

Like old times.

Like old times.

Things get heated when Harvey (Gabriel Macht) and Mike (Patrick J. Adams) team up to take on rival lawyer and overall sleazebag, Travis Tanner (Eric Close). While Tanner swears he’s a changed man, Harvey is also different from the last time they went at it, setting up an interesting—and hopefully final—showdown. Considering how things ended the last time the two sides tangled, it comes as no surprise when their pent up tension builds to an epic confrontation.

One of the reasons the series is enjoyable is the witty dialogue between Harvey and Mike. Their banter during “Toe to Toe” is classic Suits. I got a good laugh from Harvey’s comment about Mike’s hair, which has noticeably changed between seasons four and five, even though Mike denies anything is different. As Mike making a name for himself is enjoyable, it’s nothing compared to seeing Mike and Harvey working together like old times.

One would expect an episode involving Tanner’s return to have verbal blows thrown from each side. But who would’ve guessed Gretchen (Aloma Wright) would deliver the first punch? Gretchen not only holds her own against Harvey’s nemesis but puts him in his place. I would love to know how much Gretchen’s role evolved after Wright was cast and the writers realized the talent they had to work with. Regardless of what happens to Donna, it will be a shame if those behind Suits don’t figure out a way to keep Gretchen around.

Is this the last of Tanner? I doubt it.

Is this the last of Tanner? I doubt it.

Despite being a legal show, Suits doesn’t follow the typical case of the week formula. Harvey’s case against Tanner, which involves Tim Petroff (John Mese) and his former employee Alyssa Lang (Lindsey Krafy), is almost irrelevant. Instead, the legal maneuverings turn into a brutal personal grudge match between the two lawyers and culminates with Harvey vowing to destroy Tanner’s client. Macht’s performance is a fascinating character study in that he creates a Jekyll and Hyde persona as Harvey struggles with keeping his emotions in check while keeping up appearances. Watching Tanner and Harvey’s behavior provides a shocking realization about how far Harvey has fallen. The line separating the two adversaries has faded but the writers do a great job using Mike to help pull Harvey back from self-destructing.

After last season’s shocking finale “Not Just a Pretty Face,” many assumed Donna’s (Sarah Rafferty) departure would be quickly resolved after an episode or two. Instead, it’s been an interesting journey witnessing the toll it’s taken on Harvey. His visits with Dr. Agard (Christina Cole) have allowed the writers to explore an emotional side of Harvey that hasn’t been seen before.

Speaking of Dr. Agard, the more I see her, the more I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Agard’s screen time in “Toe to Toe” provides the perfect opportunity to establish her backstory; instead, we’re left with more questions than answers. I’m dying to know how she is able to read Harvey so well, and what it is that makes Harvey trust and confide in her. After all, it’s not like Harvey is big on sharing his feelings. Could Dr. Agard simply be nothing more than a great psychologist Harvey picked from a phonebook?

Louis and Jessica hashing things out.

Louis and Jessica hashing things out.

When Jack Soloff (John Pyper) was first introduced at the beginning of season five, it was difficult to see where the writers were taking his character. Soloff’s hostility towards Harvey has never explained so he comes across as an angry, bitter man. Turns out Soloff’s story line is less about him and more of a transition into Louis’ (Rick Hoffman) redemption. I really enjoy how the writers take the indirect route by using Pyper’s character to set up a situation where Louis and Jessica (Gina Torres) put Louis’ past indiscretions behind them and move forward. What could have easily been a shouting match between Jessica and Louis turns into a very nice moment.

Louis: “Jessica, when am I going to learn not to defy you?”

Jessica: “You’re never going to learn. But as long as I know that, we’ll be ok.”

The mayhem created by Soloff and Louis over the compensation fees may be resolved but I doubt this is the last we’ll hear from Soloff.

Has anyone else noticed how little Rachel (Megan Markle) and Mike’s engagement has played into any of the story lines this season? Other than a minor hiccup between the two over her father Robert (Wendell Pierce), there has been little discussion about their pending wedding. Could their plans be going that smoothly? It wouldn’t be Suits if they were.

My only real gripe about “Toe to Toe” is when Louis tries to convince Soloff how he got John Dellmore (Jonathan Potts) to allow the firm to handle the merger for Dellmore’s company by posing as someone who used to be homeless. As someone who spent three years homeless, I admit I’m a tad sensitive when homelessness is used as a bit. While the writers and Hoffman’s performance did it in a respectful manner, it still rubbed me the wrong way.

Tweet me @staffaroadtrip or leave a comment below to let me know what you think about “Toe to Toe.”

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/.

Follow Suits on Twitter, as well as some of the cast: <Mike> Patrick J Adams, <Harvey> Gabriel Macht, <Rachel> Meghan Markle, and <Louis> Rick Hoffman.


Like Suits on Facebook.

All photos © 2015 USA Network, a division of NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


© 2015, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.

Greg Staffa

I provide testosterone to the site. You won’t be reading about how nice a actress looks in a dress or how much of a hunk Matt Bomer is in my reviews. I describe colors using words like brown, not taupe. My twitter name is @staffaroadtrip because I love road trips and have done two different 48-state road trips since 2008. My favorite show is White Collar.

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