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Suits - Good Mudding - Review: "Looking Out For You"

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A short comment before I review "Good Mudding". Last week, Louis suffered a terrifying attack that left him shaken. Gretchen, Samantha, and Harvey each played a part in helping him process that incident. It is confusing that in this episode not a trace of Louis's ordeal or the emotional fallout is addressed. For now, I can only assume that the episodes are perhaps being aired out of the order in which they were filmed. I withhold an opinion on that episode until it is clear if that is the case or not. End comment.

Family was the focus in "Good Mudding". Harvey's brother Marcus called for him to help with a sensitive issue that threatened to open old wounds. Louis and Sheila discovered a bump in the road to parenthood. And Alex brought his daughter Joy to work after she was suspended. These three stories can almost be neatly classified as the moving one, the funny one, and the almost-became-annoying one.

It's safe to assume at this point that Alex must either fuss at or about Samantha once per episode. It's in danger of becoming his defining character trait. At the beginning of "Good Mudding", Alex is deep in the universal frustration of parenting a teenager. When Gretchen suggests Joy would benefit from interacting with a "cool" grownup, Alex asks Samantha to take on job. Samantha, to her credit, does not metaphorically toss this babysitting request into the wastebasket. After the two exchange suspension stories (Samantha says she was only suspended once, as in "once from three different schools."), Samantha brings Joy along to learn the art of bluffing. The plan was to just act confident in front of an opposing attorney and his client to convince them she had something that could be used against them in court. But while standing in line, Joy overhears their shady conversation and records it. Samantha uses the information to back the opposition into a corner.

Alex finds out and loses his mind at Samantha involving his daughter inere Samantha's. Not cool, Alex. What happens next speaks volumes about Samantha though. When Joy comes back to her, angry at her "asshole" father, Samantha corrects her. "Don't call him that." She tells Joy the truth about her high school suspension, how close she came to wrecking her future because there was no one to look out for her. "Telling you what to do IS looking out for you." While I didn't appreciate Alex flying off the handle, I did like that this interaction with him and his daughter revealed another layer of Samantha to us. In addition, Iman Benson, who plays Joy, has a fantastic snappy rapport with Katherine Heigl that endows their scenes with a fun energy.

The gist of Louis and Sheila's story was that they both got checkups to see why they haven't gotten pregnant yet. The doctor told Louis he would need to give up mudding. A humorous sequence of events followed, which felt so jarring after the mugging (it was JUST LAST WEEK) it was hard to enjoy. His interactions with Sheila felt like their pre-season premiere relationship though. However, I can say that Rick Hoffman brought his A-game again, especially in the comedic moments, and the beautiful scene where Donna gifted him the mug that read "World's Greatest Dad".

Harvey's quandary made up the heart of the episode though. He revisited all the worst parts of his child, when family drama sucked him in and demanded a pound of flesh.

His brother Marcus said he had cheated on his wife Katie, so now she was suing him for divorce and full custody of their children. Though appalled at Marcus hurting his family like that, Harvey didn't want to see him be separated from his children. He agreed to represent Marcus and try to work something out. But that wasn't the truth. Marcus had gone back to gambling, and, even worse, when his little girl saw him making a bet, Marcus told her to not tell her mom about it. Knowing firsthand the toll exacted by being made to keep a parent's dirty secret, Harvey packed his bags to leave. His mother reached out though, asking him to not be too hasty. To not let how she failed him as he was growing up mess things up for Marcus and Katie. There's nothing like carrying the emotional burden of your family members' sins.

Harvey sets aside his own pain and comes up with a good plan. First, he presents Marcus a strategy for beating Katie, a list of times she "endangered" the children due to being busy with work. It's the dirtiest of dirty lawyer tactics. But one that could be effective and devastating in court. Katie declares the list "bullshit" when Harvey shows it to her. It absolutely is. It's despicable and vile. And he's able to tell her that Marcus forbid him to do any such thing. A test he gave his brother, one that he passed, one that definitely moves Katie and may at least make the next steps for her and Marcus less tumultuous.

Also the scene in the bar with Marcus, it's physically agonizing to watch Harvey desperately hoping that Marcus will make the right decision, wanting that bit of confirmation his brother genuinely cares about his family. I didn't realize I was holding my breath alongside him until he exhaled.
Later, Harvey confides in Donna.
"I swear it took a piece of me."
She responds thoughtfully: "You could look at it that way, or you could look it that you gave a piece of yourself."
Gabriel Macht delivers an outstanding performance in this episode, navigating a pile of emotions equivalent to a family reunion. That moment near the close when Harvey sits on the end of his hotel bed, completely drained, with his limbs just hanging there, his face etched with exhaustion of the soul, is so simple, yet undeniably poignant.

Even without following up on the events of last week, "Good Mudding" packed in the punches. A bit uneven in transitioning among story lines but some great character beats.

I had several strawberries/tomatoes/button-down black shirt paragraphs that did not make it into this review.

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