With the first two episodes of Suits season 2.5 having addressed the major fallout at Pearson Hardman, it’s time to dig back into the show’s fantastic characters a bit more, starting with steely paralegal Rachel Zane.
Jessica interrupts Harvey and Mike’s game of trash-can basketball to tell Harvey about the death of an opposing lawyer whom he describes as “a dick.” When Harvey asks who’s replacing the guy, the series abruptly cuts to Rachel having a birthday dinner with her father Robert (that’s The Wire‘s Wendell Pierce), who informs her that he’s taking over a gender discrimination case that pits him against Pearson Hardman. There’s your answer, Harvey.
It’s clear that Rachel and her father have an uncomfortable relationship, with Rachel accusing her father of being unable to even pretend she has what it takes to be a lawyer. When she asks him point-blank if he thinks she can do it, he replies that he wonders if she’s considered trying something else. That causes her to get up and walk out.
Meanwhile at Pearson Hardman, new hire Katrina Bennett (guest star Amanda Schull) walks into her office to find Louis at her desk. He flings a few insults at her and then says that he’ll be “forced to supervise her,” unless she wants to “crawl back” to the District Attorney’s Office. Katrina needs some ice for that burn.
Determined to prove something to her father, Rachel returns to the firm and asks Mike to put her on the discrimination case, and he’s surprised to find out who her father is. “I’m offering to help you kick his ass,” she says, “Are you going to make room for me or not?”
Apparently Harvey and Robert both think that the deceased prior counsel is a dick. Beyond that, when they can’t agree to a renegotiation of the settlement that was previously agreed upon, Robert informs Harvey of his intent to redepose Sloane Moseley. As soon as he leaves, Harvey grills Mike about Rachel being the new paralegal on the case, and banter follows about Mike, Rachel and couches.
Robert then goes to Jessica’s office and says he wants her to settle the case. The two insult Harvey’s hair, saying he styles it like a girl, before Robert puts her off by saying that he knows that Pearson Hardman is in need of a high-profile win. Jessica tells Harvey, who calls the move “below the belt,” and plans to “cut him off at the knees.” It’s on.
Elsewhere, Katrina tries to get on Donna’s good side with cookies, with Donna quipping that “I’m remembered fondly everywhere.” The newbie demands to know who Louis is and says she wants to throw him through a plate glass window. Afterward, Katrina approaches Louis, offers an apology, and seemingly begs for his help on her case. She convinces him to sign on as her first chair, calling him “my knight in shining armor.” The overly peppy score in the background makes it obvious this is too nice to be true.
Harvey calls Rachel into his office, wanting to know if her presence in the room during Robert’s planned deposition will rattle her father. When she says she doesn’t think that he would care, Harvey tells her that it’s an indication “he cares about you more than you know.” Still, Robert calls it “a stunt” when he arrives and sees Rachel in the conference room.
The deposition is terse. It comes out quickly that Pearson Hardman is representing Sloane Moseley against the company that she claims wrongfully passed her over for promotion numerous times in favor of less qualified men. Robert uses the same ‘you should’ve tried something else’ rhetoric on Sloane, which doesn’t impress Rachel at all. When Mike cuts off the deposition at that point, she walks into the men’s room and tells him “Don’t do that shit again,” saying that it embarrassed her. He retorts that the case isn’t about her against her father, but their client against the company.
While Mike then tells Harvey he went too far in his handling of the deposition, Jessica doesn’t think he went far enough, as Sloane has informed her of her want to settle the case. Harvey’s response is to find Robert, who is as smarmy as ever, telling him that “The settlement is gone. You want something, come take it at trial.”
Back with the ‘B’ story, Louis angrily tells Katrina that he’s just incurred a massive fine for missing a hearing, claiming that she told him the wrong day. “This is a fight you don’t want to have,” he tells her. “You lied to me, and you know it.” But when she asks who he’s going to tell, he just departs, still seething. Everyone’s in a fighting mood around Pearson Hardman this week.
The next time she’s in court, he conveniently pops into the courtroom, allegedly to give her files back. She rebuffs him, but discovers that he does have them – she’s holding pictures of Louis Photoshopped as various Presidents. As Louis leaves with what she needs, the judge orders a flustered Katrina to hand over what she’s got, and if they’re not “legitimate court documents,” then she’ll be in for a major fine. Score is tied.
This incurs the wrath of Donna, who’s surprised that Louis is comparing himself to DC Comics supervillain General Zod. She tells him to let his grudge against Katrina go, but he doesn’t want to, and it turns into another discussion of his treatment at the hands of Harvey, with a little jab at Donna herself thrown in for measure. Donna leaves Louis’s office after that.
The next morning, Mike approaches Harvey on the street with a new revelation about their gender discrimination suit: there were more than a hundred female employees who were passed over for promotion, with all of their reviews using “some combination of the same sixteen words” – coded language meant to shield the company from any one lawsuit such as theirs. Harvey and Mike gloat just a little when handing the list of names over to Robert.
You know who else is chipper? Louis, who arrives at the Federal Court Building all smiles, only to set off the metal detector with his gold-plated nail scissors. He has no idea how they got there, and when he tries to get them back, the security officer there slams his face into the table and places him under arrest. Katrina conveniently appears seconds later, and when Louis insists that it was her, the officer responds with “You think I don’t know that?”
Rachel goes to her father’s office and admits to her that she took the case because of what he said to her at her birthday lunch. He says that he’s “watching you fail, and stall, and beat yourself up” and that it’s tearing him up inside. She reveals that she got a 172 on her LSATs six weeks earlier, and this takes him by surprise, possibly because he scored a 177. Point made.
Katrina visits Louis in a holding cell, and he tells her that his problem with her is that “you took a job from somebody who deserved it more.” That’s not what she thought, and after they sort of bury the hatchet, she asks him if he’s ready to call a truce, and tells him to keep his nail scissors in his own office.
In court, Robert presents Jessica with a motion to decertify their now class-action lawsuit, which he knows that she can’t tolerate, because taking on so many individual cases would drain the resources. The other option he offers her? A merger, putting his name up on the wall instead of Daniel Hardman’s. When he’s informed of this idea, Harvey laughs at the notion, considering that he’s still angling to make it Pearson Specter.
Jessica meets Robert the next day strictly to tell him that she’s going with Option A…or he can simply settle like they’d planned to all along. “When it’s all said and done, I’ll be the last one standing,” she adds with a smile, “holding a big, fat check in my hand.” He walks off without a retort, though when he returns to Pearson Hardman, it’s to tell Rachel that he’s dropping the case – and that he wants to reschedule their lunch. As if that’s not a win enough for Rachel, Mike also presents her with a birthday gift; a framed copy of her LSAT results.
Louis is horrified to arrive at his office and find copies of his mugshot, all with unflattering captions such as “senior asshole” and “Norma’s bitch,” plastered everywhere. Donna enjoys the moment, and tells him that the two of them aren’t good yet. In the battle of Katrina versus Louis, maybe the real winner is Donna Paulsen.
The episode ends with Robert telling Jessica and Harvey that he’s farmed the case out to none other than Daniel Hardman. Yep, the bastard is back. Try chewing on that for a week, Suits fans.
“Zane vs. Zane” is a good character-driven piece. It’s great to see more development for Rachel that doesn’t involve her romantic entanglement with Mike. Suits has always aimed to make her more than just his love interest, and while the show has now and then veered a little too far in that direction, this episode serves as another example of how Rachel is a dynamic character in her own right. It resumes the subplot of Rachel aspiring to be a lawyer, and introducing her father sheds some light on why she has those aspirations.
Meghan Markle chews up the scenery throughout the episode, and for fans of the show, it’s great to see her in more scenes with Gabriel Macht, too. Wendell Pierce is always a pleasure to watch, and just abrasive enough to make a serviceable antagonist for the installment without the audience completely loathing him – an important quality, because Suits has already established a willingness to bring back characters at any time, especially those close to the protagonists.
Speaking of bringing back, the return of Daniel Hardman may not be a surprise, but it’s something worth looking forward to. It’s been obvious from the midseason finale that the show wasn’t done with him yet. The question is what effect he’ll have on the firm; given that ripples of the “civil war” he incited are still being felt, what damage will he do now? With only four episodes left in the season, this could be a starting point for plot developments that will set up or continue into the season three. Any way you slice it, this episode’s set the stage for great things to come…so in other words, it’s par for the course for Suits.
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