I’ve been a faithful viewer of USA’s series Suits ever since it’s premiere. I was instantly captured by the bromance which developed by main characters Harvey Specter(Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams). It is their friendship which kept me watching through seven seasons of ups and downs. That, along with the lovely romance which develops between Mike and Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) as well as the romantic tension between Harvey and long time colleague Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty). But the end of season seven neatly wraps up these three story lines. With the departure of Mike and Rachel and the seemingly final resolution to Harvey and Donna’s potential for romance, I wasn’t sure I would continue watching the series. All my favorite reasons for viewing were gone.
However, I’m here to argue that season eight just may be Suits best yet. It includes the addition of Rachel’s father Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce) to the firm of Specter-Litt along with his protégé and favorite pit bull Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl).
I’m really enjoying Zane’s new role in the series as managing partner of the law firm. I was never quite able to fall in love with Jessica Pearson in the same role. I appreciated her special relationship with Harvey along with her relevance as a minority female being the big boss of the series. However, as much as I respected her, she never really engendered my loyalty. By contrast, Robert Zane is much more to my liking. In some ways, he’s like a big teddy bear, often displaying a soft side. But just as often able to assert his strength and authority over employees who often bicker like family.
At first I was unsure about the addition of Samantha’s character to the cast. Her introduction to viewers and to her new firm is abrasive and challenging. She is also set up as a competitor with Alex Williams (Dule Hill) for the next promotion to senior partner. Harvey just happens to have promised the position to Alex while Zane has made the same promise to Samantha. However, her battle with Alex is anything but cliché and leads to an interesting but complex relationship.
I also love her interactions with Donna who really comes into her own this season as the COO of the firm. These are two strong, intelligent, talented women who initially bump heads, but eventually join forces for the good of the firm. Their fledgling friendship looks to be a great future substitute for the loss of Harvey and Mike’s bromance.
I’m also really appreciating how the show is setting Samantha up as a female version of Harvey. With similar backgrounds and personalities, it gives an interesting new perspective on Harvey. He is ostensibly one of the main protagonists and one who garners sympathy even when his actions are questionable. Poor first impressions of Samantha give us the other side of a coin; learning to appreciate a character we aren’t predisposed to like. It also gives the series new story lines as they can slowly unravel the mystery of Samantha’s background since Harvey’s has already been largely explored.
I’m also really loving that other characters are now receiving more screen time. Alex, Donna, managing senior partner Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), and Louis protégé Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull) have all benefitted from the change in the show’s focus. As the third senior partner of the firm, Louis throws an added kink in the question for who will next be promoted to senior partner, by backing Katrina, a character who has rarely received much screen time except to support Louis. Now, we get to see her as she really is, a highly competent and competitive attorney.
Of course Donna remains Donna but she really grows in confidence in her new position. She also has a special little friendship developing with Robert Zane which he really needs. I love that she isn’t afraid to act as the voice of reason and confront him. And also that he calls her Red.
As much as I loved Mike and Rachel’s love story, it really had played itself out. So, I am thrilled to see that torch passed on to Louis and his true love Sheila (Rachael Harris). Over the series Louis has shown tremendous character growth. Of course, this is aided by his therapy sessions with his psychologist. At first I didn’t like him at all, but now he is one of my favorite characters. He has also proven to be one of the most complex on Suits. He is an odd, quirky little man who has met his match in Sheila. Their romance breathes new life into his story line and into the series. I also really enjoy finally seeing Louis come into his own as a firm partner, a romantic partner, in his lopsided friendship with Harvey and as a man.
With all these changes, Suits does not forget its’ roots. Mike and Rachel are still there in spirit if not in presence. Their ties to the firm and to the people there are constantly remembered in conversation by those left behind. It is clear Harvey is still finding his balance without his pseudo brother. And Robert Zane’s presence is a guaranty that Rachel will not be forgotten either. Still their departure has not been the death knell to Suits that I thought it would be. Instead, it allows the show to resurrect itself and to continue this long-running series in fresh new directions. I’m happy to say that this long-time fan is more a fan than ever.
(Photos from USA’s collection of season eight stills)