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Suits - Promises, Promises- Review: "Sledgehammer or Velvet Glove"

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Written by Rob LaMorgese & Marshall Knight and directed by Roger Kumble, 
"Promises, Promises" steps back from the power struggles to focus on teamwork.

"He's going to ask you to cover up a murder."

In the last episode, it appeared that Samantha had hung Alex out to dry, by not revealing the extent of Gavin's shady dealings. Alex remains focused on making Gavin his client. He orchestrates the return of the Renoir, and Gavin gives him a money laundering assignment immediately afterward. He's angry but also devastated. He had even gone to Louis to make Samantha back off signing up Gavin's biggest competitor. To his credit, Alex immediately says he won't commit fraud. Confronting Samantha is next on his agenda. She's not sympathetic at first, but Alex is so completely shaken (The sight of him near tears, even before Alex mentions his family, puts a mixture of regret and guilt on her face immediately, in a moment that both Hill and Heigl execute beautifully.) that Samantha agrees to help him out.
Their plan diverts Gavin's money into an investment for local Caribbean businesses, instead of the secret offshore account he wanted. Alex informs Gavin that he's made himself the trustee of the money and also spilled the beans to Gavin's niece, so now he's stuck being a client of Zane Specter Litt. It's the smallest of truces between Samantha and Alex. She is also honest with him, sharing that Robert promised her name partner next.

"Why are you telling me this?" Alex asks.
"You're never going to trust me if you think I'm trying to get ahead of you. I'm not. Because I already am."

As has been repeatedly shown so far this season, Samantha is on a higher level of the game than Alex. Will this be enough to show him there's nothing to gain from trying to one-up her? Maybe, at least, after this close call, he'll be smarter about how he tries to do it.

"Now our elevators are broken."

With Mike gone, Harvey can't help but occasionally look at the world around him with his friend's eyes. A moment of compassion prompts their floor's "facilities manager" Anna to seek him out for help. She's basically a janitor, but her manager title means that her employer doesn't have to pay her overtime, something she desperately needs to care for her ill mother. The catch is that David Fox, Zane Specter Litt's landlord, is Anna's employer. Robert cautions Harvey to not stir up trouble. He assures him he'll just have a "two minute" chat. 

To say that Harvey and Fox's conversation takes a sharp left turn is not an understatement. Fox is completely put off by Harvey suggesting he should pay Anna what she's due. ("A maid with a manager's title. Sounds like she's been empowered.") Fox throws a snobby real estate overlord's'version of a hissy fit, fires Anna, and slows down all maintenance for Zane Specter Litt. Robert has to walk up several flights of stairs. He is not happy with Harvey. Neither are Louis or Donna. They tell him to stop pushing the issue. 

Is Harvey's behavior simply a manifestation of missing his friend, as Donna suggests? Or is this where he would have ended up anyway, because of Mike's influence? That's something Harvey still has to figure out this season. For now, he disregards everyone's advice and advises Anna to sue, going so far as to seek out help from the clinic. They are too busy, so Donna says he ought to call Mike for advice. 
Ultimately Harvey doesn't do that. He tells Donna he'd rather call Mike up to share a good story than a problem that needs solving. Again, one of this season's goals is to reestablish Harvey as a character. Without Mike to manage or be contrasted against, who is Harvey Specter? What moral compass will he follow now? What are his priorities going to be? Now that Harvey's career is right where he wants it to be for now, there's this freedom to explore. Consciously choosing to not get Mike's help was a reminder of this. Not that Harvey doesn't recognize when he needs help, because he asked Donna to present the compromise to David Fox. (By which I mean that Donna told Fox what was up and what was down and he could take it or leave it. So he took it.)

"Someone I Haven't Been Clocking."

As noted last week, Harvey and Robert aren't the only ones who have made promises. Louis told Katrina way back when that she would make senior partner, if she left Zane's old firm. Now, he asks Robert what Katrina can do to prove herself, so that promise can be fulfilled. Louis finds Katrina hiding away in a corner and tells her she needs to bring Brian in on case to show her management skills. This does not get an enthusiastic response. Louis spills the beans she's up for senior partner. Rather than being overjoyed at being handed the keys to her castle in the sky, Katrina absolutely wilts. She then misses a client meeting, which results in the client storming out, angry that Brian wasn't up to speed on the case.

Katrina has to share with Brian that she's been suffering from stress-induced migraines, since having to fire those associates. She is worried that sharing this with Louis would make him doubt she's able to take on being a senior partner. Brian not only falls on his sword and tells Louis it was his fault the meeting went downhill, but he also helps Katrina prep for the client's case in the dimly lit headache-friendly file room. Despite the client saying he never wanted to see Brian again, Katrina tells him to present the case in court. She also tells the truth to Louis, who assures her that she'll make a great senior partner.
(It both exhilarates and worries me to see Katrina taking on more responsibilities. She's more than capable, but transitioning up brings its own new burdens.)

Closing Arguments

Though not as strong or tight as the first two episodes of the season, "Promises, Promises" provided a welcome continuation of Katrina's story, as well as an unexpected positive resolution to Alex and Samantha's second game of chicken. 

The scene that didn't work for me was Samantha and Louis's conversation in the episode. It was unprofessional. 

This episode also made me wonder who, besides Samantha, would cover up a murder. There's only a couple people who could cover it up with finesse. That's where real separation happens: between those who can do and those who can do well.

Extra points for Donna's Put You in Your Place moment™ of the week, in which Fox told her he would "send the papers down" later for her, but she told him to "send them up", because she is a busy person with real work to do.

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