With Suits season 7 arriving next month, we look back over some of our favourite moments on the show so far...
Contains spoilers for Suits seasons 1-6.
Anchored by a great cast of characters and a fine line in witty repartee, Suits has been going strong since 2011, slowly gathering steam and fans. Created by Aaron Korsh, Suits’ best moments are a product of the well-drawn characters and their relationships. With the end of the sixth season, here are thirteen scenes which highlight Suits’ ensemble at their best (and worst).
The first meeting/blackmail (season 1, episode 1)
“I got knocked into a different life and I have been wishing for a way back ever since.”
Part of a show’s success is a strong hook, and the delivery of the hook can be almost as important as the hook itself. On the run from a drug deal gone wrong, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) ends up in a hotel room with hotshot attorney Harvey Spector (Gabriel Macht). It could be patently ridiculous, but taking place just over 20 minutes into the pilot, the scene makes total sense based on what has been established about these characters.
Punctuated by some good comedy (the perfectly-timed explosion of the briefcase), it establishes their easy dynamic almost immediately. This scene is bookended by the later scene in which Mike threatens to blackmail Harvey if he fires him. Impressed by his gumption, Harvey keeps him around and we get six seasons of a show.
Harvey and Donna get back together (season 1, episode 12)
“Don’t push it.”
After Harvey’s right-hand woman Donna (Sarah Rafferty)went behind his back in the previous episode, it looked like the teflon duo are not on as solid footing as we’ve been led to expect. This is the first real test of Harvey and Donna’s relationship, and the way it resolves perfectly epitomises their bond: Harvey barely apologises and Donna gets out the can opener. Compared with the scrapes they get into in later seasons, it’s short and sweet, but maintains the show’s ability to hit emotional cues without coming off saccharine, or betraying the characters’ natural reserve.
Michael’s grandmother dies (season 2, episode 9)
“Someone kept calling the office for you...”
The dead relative is a familiar trope that should be entirely predictable, but the moment Mike learns his grandmother has died comes out of nowhere. What makes it worse is that Mike spends his off-hours this episode finding her a new place to live. Sadly, that is where he has to take the news that she has died. It’s a nice scene, beautifully underplayed by Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle, which makes it hit even harder. The cut to a wide shot of Rachel holding Michael in the empty apartment is strong enough by itself. It’s a great example of the show’s willingness to just let the drama play out naturally.
Mike and Harvey get high (season 2, episode 10)
“Don’t mind if I do…”
After his grandmother’s death, Mike (and the audience) needed a breather. After Daniel Hardman retakes control of the firm from Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), Harvey is also in need of a break. For a few glorious minutes in the middle of this episode, amid funerals and corporate skullduggery, our heroes can kick back and just shoot the breeze (with the help from Mike’s old friend Mary Jane). It’s a real humanising moment for Harvey -- it’s not often he lets his guard down, and we get a little insight into his psyche that reveals far more than he perhaps intended. The fact that this scene winds up helping our heroes coming up with a way to get back at Hardman makes it all the better.
Mike and Rachel finally get together (season 2, episode 16)
Well, that took long enough. Under the gun, Mike finally tells Rachel that he never went to Harvard. Their romantic clinch in the file room is a solid example of the one time an obvious cliche (the whole ‘I Hate You!’-to-passionate make-out’ set piece) feels totally appropriate. It’s melodramatic, but the long-simmering tension between Mike and Rachel needed to break at some point, and it feels earned.
Elliott Stemple rolls over (season 3, episode 13)
“Don’t you look ready to rumble.”
Harvey has quite the rogues' gallery, and no one rankles more faster than Elliott Stemple (Patrick Fischler). Harvey’s old nemesis from law school, Stemple is a diabolical lizard brain in human form. Constantly thinking five moves ahead, Stemple is so slippery he manages to have both Harvey and Mike on the ropes. The fact that he does so with a permanent smirk stamped on his face makes it all the more aggravating every time he manages to worm his way out of trouble.
Cheerfully walking over anyone who gets in his way (even his family gets tossed under the bus), Stemple manages to make himself the most hateable character on the show in the space of 40 minutes. It makes his ultimate downfall all the more satisfying, as our heroes manage to finally deliver a knockout blow. The way he hisses defeat is extremely satisfying. A wonderfully toxic character, he returns to plague Harvey and co. in season six.
Louis collapses in court (season 3, episode 14)
“Mr Litt, are you okay?”
Louis (Rick Hoffman) starts this episode in good stead — he has a girlfriend and he is about to close his latest case. Even the moment he collapses, while shocking, is a testament to his character: ever the pro, he manages to give his closing argument and retreat to his chair before passing out. It forces the other characters to realise how much he matters to them, leads to Louis making a marriage proposal And giving Harvey a hug.
It’s rare to see Louis have an entire episode where he is the most lovable character on the show, and it is a delight. The bit where he asks Harvey to be his best man is truly affecting, as the veteran rivals are finally able to share a moment of genuine mutual regard, with no ulterior motives.
Louis discovers Mike’s secret (season 4, episode 10)
“You know what an Oscar looks like?”
Season Four is not the best time to be to Louis Litt, and this episode finds him at his nadir. Kicked out of the firm, unable to find work and abandoned by the woman he loves, Louis is not in a good place when Mike pays him a visit halfway through this episode. When Mike makes a slipup about Harvard, Louis finally figures out what has been going on for the last four years. This revelation takes place in a confrontation with Donna, which represents one of the show’s darkest (and saddest) moments. Already hurt and betrayed, Louis is even more disturbed by the fact that she had manipulated their relationship in order to cover for Mike.
It’s a painful moment, made even more so by the fact that it is the indomitable Donna who is at a loss. She is always the one constant, the one character who can be counted on as a calm voice of reason. Not here.
Louis’ secretary dies (season 4, episode 16)
“She was a battle axe!”
Starting as Louis’ unseen whipping boy, his secretary Norma went from joke to emotional catalyst in the space of one episode. After she dies, Louis is tasked with putting together her funeral arrangements. After spending the majority of the episode barraging the dead woman with insults, Louis finally breaks down while arguing about the quality of urns the funeral home has on offer.
Starting out as a delightful black comedy, with Louis continuing to vent his frustrations about the deceased’s incompetence at every turn, the scene concludes with a surprisingly emotional finale. Finally forced to confront his real feelings about Norma, it is a wonderfully humanising moment for Suits’ resident anti-hero. The fallout from Norma’s death makes for one of the most affecting scenes in the series, and gives Rick Hoffman one of his best showcases.
Donna quits (season 4, episode 16)
“This isn’t working for me any more.”
The season four finale is to Harvey and Donna what the Godfather Part II was to Michael Corleone: we spend the episode intercutting between Harvey and Donna’s first interactions, as the cocksure attorney falls under her sway, and the present, where she finally decides to throw in the towel. It’s short, it’s brutal and it ends with Donna working for Louis. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound! You can almost hear Harvey’s brain exploding as he receives this one-two punch of bad news.
Mike is arrested for fraud (season 5, episode 16)
Kudos to Aaron Korsh for not taking the blue pill on this one. Mike has been skating on thin ice for five years — to have him get away with his facade forever would have meant a slow death for the show. Further kudos for dropping that plot point at the tailend of the last episode and then letting it play out over the course of the finale.
The episode’s pivotal moment is Harvey’s confrontation with the jury foreman. He reveals that the verdict would have been ‘not guilty’, making Mike’s decision all the more depressing. When Mike appears in his office doubting his decision, Harvey has to lie in order to spare Mike the truth. While there are a few glimmers of hope, the overall tone of this episode is about acceptance, and coming to terms with what is happening. It’s a more mature and sophisticated approach than most primetime shows, and provided a resolution to Mike’s dilemma that felt earned.
It’s testament to how well-played this finale is that you don’t realise until it’s over that the show has basically thrown out its hook. Korsh manages to make it feel like the end of something, and the beginning of something else.
She’s gone (season 6, episode 10)
“You sure about this?”
The euphoria over Mike’s release has not even dissipated when vindictive client-turned-convict William Sutter (Alan Rosenberg) starts disparaging the firm to their major clients. Reasoning that if Harvey and co. would turn on a big client like Sutter he could also turn on them, they start leaving Pearson Spector Litt. Rachel’s father, Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce), appears with an offer to merge their respective firms, but Jessica decides to quit rather than have her name as an add-on to someone else’s firm. Softened by the fact that she has just got a wrongfully convicted man off Death Row, Jessica finally remembers the reason she became a lawyer (hint: not for the money or power) and leaves with her head high.
Jessica’s big save (season 6, episode 16)
“I don’t think I can add anything to that...”
For most of this finale, it feels like nothing will go right. Mike’s sworn enemy, federal prosecutor Anita Gibbs (Leslie Hope), manages to get herself on the committee that will be deciding whether Mike gets admitted to the bar; Donna’s patent runs into trouble; Louis is scrabbling to repair his relationship with Tara (Carly Pope); and Harvey can’t find an angle to get Gibbs booted off the committee. For awhile it feels like season five all over again. And then Jessica Pearson strolls in like a boss and hits Gibbs where it hurts.
Jessica has not had as many chance to show off her chops as Harvey and Louis, but every time she does you remember why her name was first on the wall. A fine send-off for Gina Torres, a clean slate for Mike and a fresh canvas for season seven.