There was a storm of emotions that went through me this episode. From cheering on my favorites to nearly bursting out in tears, Suits’ eighth episode of the ninth season, ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma,’ is one for the books.
‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ follows the same format as the other episodes in this season—it’s throwback heaven. We pay tribute to various parts of the show, but unlike other episodes, there’s little to no humor this time around. Instead, we have a super serious Suits that is reminiscent of the show’s transition in its earlier years from a dramedy to a straight up drama. We’re taken back to the sixth season, better known as the season everyone but me hates. SEC Prosecutor Cahil returns, along with some friendly faces—Forstman and Malik. (There’s also Esther and Kevin, but I’d rather not group them in with those dirty men.)
From start to finish, it’s a whirlwind of chaos. Harvey (Gabriel Macht) and Sean find out that Malik is onto them, while Louis (Rick Hoffman) helps his sister, Esther, out with her company’s merger. Thanks to these two major events, we deal with serious topics throughout this episode. Although it was hard to get through because it was so intense, Esther and Louis’ storyline was well made and powerful. We explore Esther’s fears as a victim of sexual harassment, but we also see how it affects others, especially family. Hoffman’s performance illustrates the powerlessness of the victim’s friends and family—how Louis wants to do everything but can do nothing. Luckily, Katrina (Amanda Schull) and Samantha (Katherine Heigl) end up helping the siblings. It’s a surprise duo, but it’s a powerful one. Even though there’s only two more episodes left, I’d really like some more of this.
Additionally, like all other episodes, there are overarching themes, and this week we address actions having consequences and the importance of loyalty. This is emphasized in Harvey’s episodic story line.
Unlike other episodes in the past, in this episode, Harvey owns up to his mistakes. After all these years, it’s clear that the weight of Harvey’s actions grow heavy on his back. Harvey goes all out, backed by a brilliant performance by Gabriel Macht.
The lawyer discovers that Cahil cut a deal with Malik, and having nowhere to turn, he panics. Furthermore, during the interrogation, Malik tells him that the issue with Harvey is that he never thinks he does any wrong. This gets to Harvey’s head, and when he leaves the interrogation to confront Cahil, he grows angry and punches the man.
Harvey is hurt. He was loyal to Cahil, but he felt like Cahil wasn’t loyal to him. Not only that, Malik’s tormenting messed with him. Everything was collapsing around him—his actions finally bore their consequences. In a desperate attempt to let out his emotions, Harvey demands that he always does what he thinks is right, not what is legally right. Despite the fact that he clearly admits to doing illegal things, he says that he’s okay with it—if he had to cross the lines he has crossed in the past, he would “do it all again.” He’s always done what—in his mind—was right.
Although it appears self-righteousness and the last resort, upon re-evaluating Harvey’s words, he’s anything but smug. It’s definitely a moment to save face, but who can blame him? All that is left is the husk of a man who once had everything, but now has been reduced to nothing, thanks to Cahil’s deal.
He is desperate to justify his actions because, now that he knows what people think, he has to correct them—he is a lawyer, after all. He admits his mistakes in a winded, angry spat, but the tone doesn’t matter. It’s what he says—the fact that he doesn’t see them as mistakes. Instead, he sees them as necessary to protect those he loves and cares about. Every single line that Harvey crossed was to save someone that wasn’t him—it was never about him. When he crossed lines in the past, it was fun, sure—it’s always fun to break rules—but in the end, it was always to help someone. Giving Mike the job wasn’t for him—he didn’t need a partner. Instead, he was giving Mike a chance at redemption and glory, something that Jessica had given him. When he did whatever it took to save Donna, he did it because she had done so much for him in the past. Especially when he colluded with Cahil to get Mike out of prison, it was about saving a man who had never hurt anyone, a man who had never done any wrong. Overall, even though it acts as a pivotal scene for the episode, it’s also one of the best scenes explaining Harvey’s humanity. Of course, this rant is overturned when Cahil and Harvey later reconcile to kick Malik’s ass, but the meaning is still there.
The episode ends when Sean and Harvey destroy Malik. Esther and Louis are successful in shutting down her tormentor, and the whole gang parts ways to go home. Louis goes home to Sheila, where he remembers that family is everything—the core value of Suits.
He proposes to Sheila, and of course, Sheila doesn’t say no. (We’re seeing a Shouis wedding. I call it now.) On the other side of town, Harvey gets home, excited to see Donna. He’s destroyed their biggest enemy, for God’s sake.
Unfortunately, things take a turn as Harvey greets Donna at his door. Her eyes are big, and she looks upset. Approaching her, Harvey discovers his mom has passed away from a heart attack—the same way his father died. The screen cuts to black as they share a teary embrace.
I don’t “die inside” often because of Suits, but I felt my heart shatter into twenty different pieces thanks to this episode. The entire show was chaotic from start to finish—especially the finish.
God, writing this now, I’m still thinking, “That couldn’t have happened, right?”
It did. I rewatched it four times. It really happened.
Out of all the things to hurt me that episode, Lily’s death really did me in. And I don’t even like Harvey’s mom that much. I like her because she plays a pivotal role in Harvey’s character development, but sheesh. When things were getting good for Harvey they all fell apart.
Suits characters can have no peace, especially Donna and Harvey. At one point, Mike had no peace either, but now that he’s gone, is Darvey expected to bear the burden of pain? I can only hope that he finds comfort in the next episode. I know Donna’s there, but the amount of Darvey content we’ve gotten is next to nothing, so I’m not counting on it.
#GiveUsDarveyVacation because they really need it.
Watch Suits live with me on Wednesdays at 9/8c on USA Network or catch up with the previous episodes on the Suits website.