The USA Network’s ‘Suits’ is a classic example of a show that has simply clung to life for too long. Early seasons were cracking good entertainment, but the last couple (especially Season 5) were an exercise in frustration watching characters constantly infighting for no reason and making terrible decisions purely for the sake of amping up the drama. Now the show’s back for a sixth cycle, and it’s unclear so far whether anything has changed for the better.
The main thrust of the last season was that fake lawyer Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) had finally been found out, and was doggedly pursued by a zealous prosecutor determined to convict him for fraud and take down the firm. Just as he was on the verge of winning his defense and legitimizing himself as a lawyer, Mike suddenly gave up out of the blue and copped to a plea deal for two years in prison. Allegedly, he did this to protect his friends (especially mentor Harvey) from having to take the fall for his crime.
However, this was basically a really stupid and inane decision. If Mike had won the case, the prosecutor would have no basis to go after anyone else. Even if he lost, he had plenty of grounds for appeal considering how wildly unethical the woman’s behavior and tactics had been. By turning himself in and admitting his crime, Mike actually put the firm in tremendous jeopardy. The season ended with every single partner and associate and random employee aside from the core group of characters (Harvey, Jessica, Louis, Donna and Rachel) fleeing to take other jobs and bringing most of their clients with them.
The sixth season opens with Mike settling in at prison. Not humbled by his misfortune in the slightest and still every bit the smug douchebag he’s evolved into over the past few years, he starts an immediate conflict with a prison shrink (Malcolm Jamal Warner) over nothing. Fortunately, his cellmate, a white collar criminal named Frank Gallo (Paul Schulze from ‘Nurse Jackie’), turns out to be a pretty friendly dude. The two men quickly bond over movies and their legal woes. Frank lets Mike borrow a contraband cell phone so that he can text his fiancée Rachel, which is of course completely against prison rules. On his very first night in prison, Mike opens up and tells Frank his entire life story. You can already see where this is going, right?
Meanwhile, back at Pearson Specter Litt, the firm is in shambles. They’ve lost most of their money and most of their clients, and are further sucker-punched by a $100 million class action lawsuit over every single case that Mike ever touched. As they’re prone to doing, Harvey, Louis and Jessica bicker and feud over which of them is to blame and how to pick up the pieces. Eventually, Jessica proposes that they smoke a figurative peace pipe by smoking a literal doobie together. That does the trick. Everyone mellows out, relationships are mended (for the moment), and Harvey concocts a brilliant scheme to get them out of this mess.
The episode ends with the revelation that – Gasp! Shock! Horror! – Frank the inmate isn’t such a nice guy after all. Everything he said about himself was a lie. He bribed a guard to let him swap cells with another prisoner so he could get close to Mike. He knew who Mike was all along and harbors a very serious grudge against Harvey, who put him in prison in the first place. By getting Mike to talk, he was actually secretly collecting information about Harvey, and by tricking Mike into using the cell phone, he now has leverage over him.
For such a brilliant fake attorney, Mike sure is a dumbass a lot of the time.
One of my biggest complaints with recent seasons of ‘Suits’ is the wild inconsistency among the characters. One moment they’re the best of friends and the next they’re tearing at each other’s throats over the slightest grievance – and then back again shortly afterwards for the cycle to repeat endlessly. That’s still an issue in this premiere, though perhaps toned down a bit. I just don’t trust any of the characters to learn from their actions or mistakes.
With Mike exposed and in prison, the original premise of the series is essentially irrelevant. I’m not sure how the show can go through a whole season (or potentially two, given his sentence length) with him behind bars. Already, the storyline Mike has in this episode feels contrived as an excuse to keep him in the cast and give him screen time. It would perhaps have been better to write him off the show entirely and refocus on the rest of the characters. Even if Mike somehow gets out of prison early, what would be the point of keeping him around? He can’t practice law anymore. He’s useless.
Thankfully, the premiere episode still has some sharp writing and a number of entertaining scenes. I’m not ready to give up on the show yet, but I don’t love it as much as I used to anymore.