Those who’ve never watched “Suits,” the hour-long legal drama on USA Network, can expect a fast pace and snappy office banter. Main character Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) is a successful attorney known for operating “in the gray,” using tactics of questionable legality. Harvey’s decision to hire his associate Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is a perfect example. Prior to working at Pearson Hardman, Mike, who has a photographic memory, took the LSAT for students looking to get into Harvard Law School.
Season one dealt primarily with Mike, his dubious background, his on-and-off relationship with Rachel the paralegal (Meghan Markle) and his job as an associate without a legitimate college degree (from any school, not just Harvard). He’s the nice guy caught in a bad situation who makes the decision to go from shabby apartments and marijuana to gleaming New York skyscrapers and 50th-floor offices. Each episode focused on one specific lawsuit where Harvey used some sort of clever ruse to crack the case–a similar format to shows like “House M.D.”
Season two, on the other hand, is more intriguing for the less legally inclined. Macht and Adams still toss around words like pro bono, subpoena and affidavit, but each episode is less formulaic and delves deeper into the complexities of each character. Harvey was the slick lawyer dude with the tough exterior, but we learn that there’s more to him than his $2,000 suit. Admittedly, his characterization isn’t really breaking any stereotypes, but it’s certainly more exciting to watch.
Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), a junior partner and Harvey’s rival at the firm, is perhaps the most human of all the characters. He and Harvey started at the firm as equals, but Harvey received the promotion both had been gunning for. Louis’ snarky humor–which is the most entertaining of all the characters’–and contentious attitude are the results of feeling unappreciated and unwanted, which is why he’s especially susceptible to office bribery.
The second season begins with Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), co-founder and managing partner of the firm, discovering Mike’s secret. After witnessing a surprising display of compassion from Harvey, Jessica chooses not to fire either of them. As the season progresses, a long story arc develops: Harvey is accused of burying evidence, and the firm comes under fire.
The character of Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty) undergoes the greatest transformation in the most recent few episodes. In season one, she was Harvey’s amusing and self-assured secretary. Now we see her playing a larger, and possibly detrimental, role at the firm. Episode four ends with a shot of Donna’s date stamp on the evidence Harvey had been accused of burying.
The preview for the next episode features a confrontation between the firm’s lawyer and Donna:
“Where do you see yourself in five years?” asks the firm’s lawyer.
“Because where I see you is in jail.”
The intricacies of each character are really what give the show depth and intrigue. Season one was engaging, but if the case-by-case format continues, “Suits” can easily fall into a bland routine. If the show’s creator, Aaron Korsh, wants to avoid stagnation, we need to see more. The plotlines need complexity, and characters’ backstories need to influence the progression of the story. Viewers won’t settle for another run-of-the-mill legal drama.
When a consultant comes to see the associates, Louis tells them, “I want you to convince this woman that Pearson Hardman makes you shit rainbows.” If the structure of season two is maintained, that should be the general consensus.