Suits is back.
After the Season 7 finale that saw both Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle depart the show in lieu of the latter’s real-life wedding to Prince Harry, the saga of Mike Ross that carried the show since its very inception has finally wound up (or has it?). This season, Suits bravely moves on with other characters as it tries to build a narrative that for once doesn’t rely on either Mike or Jessica, unarguably two of the show’s most pivotal characters.
The end result is an updated intro, which received a refresh after 7 years, the promotion of some supporting characters to regular status, and a new entrant that promises to challenge Harvey in hitherto unheard of ways. And as is customary with the show, quite a lot happens despite it being the first episode.
We pick off right around Mike’s wedding. As we saw in the previous season finale, Robert Zane agreed to a merger with Specter Litt to thwart of the threat of competition. Two powerhouses forced to work in harmony with each other surely isn’t going to be easy for either of them. After a brief exchange at the wedding, we’re back to the law firm’s office with Robert, Harvey and Louis Litt as the firm’s new trifecta of partners. Immediately a problem presents itself as the duo realize that they have clients with conflicting interests and one of them must let their clients go. That is, until Louis figures out that all they really need to do is convince their clients to sell off their conflicting divisions in which case they can keep ’em both (talk about plot convenience). Taking it as a challenge, Robert and Harvey agree to convince each other’s clients instead of their own, and set the stage for an episode-wide conflict.
The conflict soon trickles down to their associates when Harvey assigns his case to Alex. While Harvey-Alex can never be as cool as Harvey-Mike, the show’s clearly attempting to draw some kind of dynamic between the two. Regardless, Alex has neither the charm nor the wit that oozed off Mike so for now we’ll wait and watch how his character and the said pairing develops. Robert meanwhile assigns his case to Samantha, our new entrant who doesn’t flinch twice before concocting a falsified story to gain anyone’s sympathy. I get the feeling this trait is going to come back to bite Harvey real hard. The showrunners try and present her as a hard-ass lawyer, with a literally ass-kicking introduction in the boxing ring that appears cringe-worthy enough for you to see through Katherine Heigl’s fake and lethargic punches. And Donna is going to have a hard time competing with Samantha for Harvey’s affection … I mean attention.
Speaking of Donna brings me to the other subplot, and a somewhat realistic one. With the merger gone through, Louis realizes they have too many associates and need to let the bottom ten go. Katrina steps up to the challenge of informing those associates but it turns out much more difficult than she thought. She tries to objectify the process which brings Brian in the line-of-fire. Yes, that same Brian who connected so well with Louis last season so as to have him hold his child (which we’re conveniently reminded of in the episode recap). Donna steps in to advise Katrina on considering intangibles even as it doesn’t lessen the pain of letting an employee know they have to go. Surely a lot of us would be able to relate at some level.
The episode moves its chess board pieces, introducing our new players and sets them on collision course for the future. Alex and Katrina are vying for partner positions and it isn’t hard to imagine Samantha’s in there two. I can already visualize a scenario where a conflict means that only one out of Harvey’s friend Alex, Louis’ protege Katrina and Robert’s ace employee Samantha want in on a partnership position resulting in the trio duking it out over their respective loyalties. After all, what’s Louis going to do when he realizes he can choose only one of Alex and Katrina after he’s essentially given both his word of loyalty and offered his hand in friendship.
So while Mike and Rachel end up being referenced quite often in the episode, they’re both out of the picture for now. Even so, it isn’t hard to imagine them pop-up heroically a.l.a. Jessica Pearson and save the firm out of a dicey situation. For now though, it seems Suits has accepted that the long-drawn out arc of Mike Ross has played its course and is content moving ahead with its new batch of characters. This debut episode of Season 8 sets up the cards nicely for some inevitable future conflicts that should culminate in a courtroom showdown.
Overall Score: 8.0 out of 10.0