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TV REVIEW: Louis & Mike Feel the Pain of Family Bonds in “Heartburn”

By on March 28, 2014

Pictured: Patrick J. Adams as Michael Ross -- (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network)

Full Disclosure: Aaron Korsh’s Suits is one of my TV passions right now.

I can’t recall another show in recent memory with quite the same ability to blend trademark mile-a-minute legalese with sudden poignancy or unexpected hilarity, as the situation requires.

The characters too are drawn so sharply that when set against that stark black and white, win or lose, eat or be eaten backdrop of New York’s legal elite, their individual moments of frailty and indecision seem magnified by comparison.

Such was the case in last night’s offering “Heartburn.” As is often the scenario, three distinct stories (this week’s centring on Louis, Mike and Rachel) seem at first glance to have no connection, but over time begin to share a common theme.

If last week’s episode was all about friendship versus status (who can forget Harvey’s (Gabriel Macht) conversations with both Scottie and Louis about asking as a friend, or calling in a chip?) then this week was surely about family, and what the bonds of family mean in actual terms. As both Louis and Mike came to realise, being part of a family has its distinct drawbacks too.

Pictured: (l-r) Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter, Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen -- (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network)

Pictured: (l-r) Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter, Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen — (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network)

Speculation was rife during the week about just who Donna (Sarah Rafferty) was comforting in that hospital bed in the promo trailers. Our money was always on Louis (Rick Hoffman) – the man who prefers pretending to jog over taking actual exercise and whose blood pressure goes through the roof whenever he has to address the associates. However Louis’ sudden heart attack was no less shocking when it happened.

The news struck a blow to the gang at Pearson Specter, who immediately rallied to support him, and significantly to hide the news from the clients. Despite Louis’ insistence that no one should come to visit him, Donna instantly understood that “he’s embarrassed but he wants me to be there.” In his moment of crisis, Louis found he had the support and sympathy of his co-workers. Even Harvey was cajoled into giving him a hug upon his return to the office.

In fact, Louis’ heart attack did much to bolster his ever-shifting convictions about how much he is valued, not only as a lawyer, but as a friend to Donna, Mike, Rachel, Jessica and especially Harvey.

In fact, this solid reassurance served to place Louis in the emotional wringer when, prompted by his near-death experience, he asked Sheila (Rachael Harris) to marry him and move to New York. Sheila in turn, prompted him to ditch Pearson-Specter and move to Boston. Would Louis be able to leave the gang behind, now that he knew in his heart that they did truly care about him, and that he finally had the acceptance and understanding he so badly craved? We didn’t get to find out, as another issue, this one involving Sheila’s reluctance to have children, sprang up between the two lovers, causing a rift in their relationship.

We’re not sure what’s ahead for Louis and Sheila, but we got to see just how important Louis’ family connections at Pearson-Specter are to him.

Pictured: Patrick J. Adams as Michael Ross -- (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network)

Pictured: Patrick J. Adams as Michael Ross — (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network)

Mike (Patrick J. Adams) too was feeling the pain that resulted from his special connection to the firm this week. Last week he came to realise that his lack of a law degree meant keeping a perpetually low profile at the firm. This week, he got a real taste of what it might be like to be a junior associate, forever trapped by his secret.

Remember Jonathan Sidwell (Brandon Firla), Tony Gianopolis’ right hand man and the client Louis tried, failed then eventually won over? Well “Heartburn” revealed that all was not well for Sidwell, who actually wanted to leave his boss and and go create his own company. When Sidwell confided in Mike that a water-tight non-compete meant that he would be forever stuck in Gianopolis’ employ, Mike couldn’t help but draw parallels to his own situation at Pearson-Specter.

We were also treated to a wonderful and significant scene in which Harvey and Mike thrashed out all the possibilities concerning Mike’s predicament and his future. What if Mike secretly took the bar? What if he took it under a different name? What if he moved away and started his life over as a lawyer in another city? I have to admit, these are questions I have asked myself about Mike’s degree since the show’s first season, and it was a nice touch to see them addressed in a meaningful way in this scene. It proved that his problem is more than just a hook upon which to hang the show’s premise, and that ultimately there will be more repercussions in episodes to come.

Attempting to help Sidwell wriggle out of his non-compete only angered Harvey and forced Mike into an uncomfortable situation where he had to prevent Sidwell’s departure. However a candid moment between both men later led to Mike finding a way for Sidwell to be free of his boss. Significantly, it also led to Sidwell offering Mike a position in new firm, not as a lawyer but as a member of his investment banking firm.

“You’re in the minor leagues here. I’m giving you a chance to play in the majors,” Sidwell notes.

But it’s not just the opportunity to shatter that glass ceiling, but to be finally fraud-free, that hooks Mike, and judging from the promo trailer for next week’s episode, this offer is not about to be swept under the rug just yet.

Pictured: Meaghan Markle as Rachel Zane (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network)

Pictured: Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network)

Rachel (Meghan Markle) too was feeling out of sorts when a bill for her tuition fees meant gently reminding Louis about his prior agreement to fork up the money for her education. But with Louis in hospital, Rachel was left with no option but to face the tiger ask Jessica (Gina Torres), who promptly disavowed any knowledge of Rachel’s contract with Louis. (You know what they say about verbal agreements not being worth the paper they’re written on, right?)

In the end, Rachel found a way for Pearson-Specter to honor the original agreement, but not without some resentment on Rachel’s part towards Louis, whom she felt sure deliberately treated her like a chump and never intended to hand over the tuition fees.

For what it’s worth, I think Louis is a man of his word and that Rachel should go talk to him and sort it out. Just like any family, slights have the potential to become festering wounds if left to linger … Harvey’s reluctance to call Scottie being a case in point. Honestly, what would this firm do without Donna?

Catch Suits Tuesdays 10-11 p.m. ET) on USA.

Louis Litt’s Best Lines of the Night 

  • Your love has made me dry, Shelia.
  • Buy me ten minutes without committing a crime!
  • Alright, let’s Litt this up!
  • I don’t know why I had a heart attack but I promise it won’t happen again.

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