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Suits - Sour Grapes - Review: "Just Getting Started"

"Sour Grapes" is an unexpectedly rich and satisfying episode, and it's also Gabriel Macht's third time directing on the show.

Sometimes an episode is good. And sometimes it's a hell of a lot better than good. Relationships were tested by both personal and professional developments, and battles were fought. Emotions poured out. It's as if everyone suddenly gets to breathe more freely, and even the way the episode is filmed reflects this. The cameras pull back a step or two farther than they usually do for most scenes, but when tempers flare the frame whooshes back up close. You can feel the electricity when the moment gets tense. It's singularly captivating.

"You earned my respect."

David Fox comes calling to collect those free legal services Donna extended. This is naturally the first Harvey is hearing about it. He couldn't be more thrilled. And he conceals it wonderfully. I am absolutely kidding. After a good minute of exasperated frowning at Donna for brokering the deal, Harvey visits Fox. David Alpay has charisma and screen-friendly intensity for days. That translates to his character, who comes across as formidable but not unlikable. Harvey doesn't hold a smidgen of regard for Fox though. He makes sure to figuratively etch his disdain in permanent marker on his sleeve. In case Fox missed it. What Fox needs help with is purchasing a building, but the buyer can't know he's the one doing so. It's fairly typical stuff for a real estate guy to do. That doesn't stop Harvey from sighing more heavily than a four year old who has been told he has to eat his broccoli or no dessert. No slam dunk here though. The building owner sees Fox coming, and he is more than ready for Harvey. Talk about back-breaking straws. Working a case for a client he loathes, Harvey now has to deal with being outmaneuvered. It is a good thing that Donna has called in Samantha to back him up.

Donna tells Samantha that her goal is for the firm to bond as much as possible before the divisive name partner decision will be made. That way there will be a better chance they are still a family afterwards. It is her sharp insights into human psychology that make Donna the lifeblood of the firm. She IS the glue that holds new bonds together and repairs bonds when they fracture. At times, however, Donna has been almost too polished this season. She has felt like a narrator more than a participant in the stories. That is why it was such a joy to watch her and Harvey fight. After Harvey learns that David Fox has been giving oddly large amounts of money to a tenant of the building he wants to buy (and suspiciously classifying it as a debt repayment), he wants to be done. Donna confronts him in the lobby. (This episode nicely shakes things up visually, with the characters filmed in familiar settings but from different angles or distances than usual. Kudos to Gabriel Macht for that. And one of my favorite decisions in that vein is to have the Donna/Harvey clash take place with the escalators in the background. No friendly elevators this time!)

She tells him he can't drop David Fox, because she gave her word. He should care about whether or not his actions besmirch her professional reputation. It would also damage her ability to negotiate deals with other parties in the future. Harvey huffily snaps that she shouldn't say he doesn't care, because she's in her position because he put her there. We don't see Donna's blood boil, but it's as if it turns to molten lava under skin.

"I'm in my position, because I fucking earned it!" 

It is possible to shout while using your indoor voice. Sarah Rafferty really takes the gloves off, and it is thrilling to watch Donna give Harvey's pettiness a slap. She reminds him that dropping Fox will make her look a liar. It doesn't matter if no one thinks David Fox has integrity, because she does have integrity. And even if no one else knows she's broken her word, she and Harvey will know.

It turns out that Donna was even more in the right than she realized. When Harvey tells Fox he's quitting, he accuses him of money laundering. But the truth is not what Harvey saw coming. David Fox is actually supporting the man who mentored him when he was a troubled youth. He is repaying a debt but not the kind you can put a price on. Harvey is dumbfounded. Literally cannot speak for a second as all his presuppositions fade away. Fox says he has to put on a face like he's a tough, no room for feelings, businessman to succeed in the world. Being a man of honor doesn't pay the bills. Harvey is moved.

"I can't say I agree with you, 
but I'll get you your building."

With Samantha's help, they uncover a solution. Turns out the building owner was ripping off his financial partners (the legal aspects of this case were very interesting), and Samantha reached out to them for a little chit chat in Mandarin. The only catch was that David Fox would be losing money if he took on the building. So the whole world would now know he had a soft spot. That took some time for him to swallow. But he did it. It was a nice twist to learn that David wasn't actually a total heel. And I am not adverse to more stories being told around him, especially with the common ground he has with Samantha. Speaking of, Samantha brought ideas to the table this week that ended up not working in the case, but she immediately started looking for ways to improve those ideas. That is why she's such a great attorney.

"It made me stronger."

Louis gets his happy dance on. Sheila phones him with news: a positive pregnancy test. They agree to not tell anyone just yet, although Gretchen can't not see the happy dance. With his head in a happy whirl, Louis asks Gretchen to start researching midwife classes and takes Sheila out to a celebratory dinner. The conversation naturally turns to joyful anticipation of doing "everything together" with their son/daughter. Louis beams as he talks about the future Junior Litt attending his childhood summer camp. Sheila stops him right there. It is not her wish to raise their child Jewish like he was. In fact, she'd rather they didn't raise their child to be anything in particular. Louis is more conflicted than he reveals to Sheila, so he turns to his sister Esther (Amy Acker) for advice. She's excited for him. But she helps him realize how important it is that his child share in his heritage. Esther also warns him that he needs to tell Sheila how he feels. Her own marriage failed, Esther says, not because of anything her husband did but because he didn't feel he could be honest with her.

Louis decides to confess to Sheila how important this is to him. She is not receptive. In her mind, it would just be too much, especially with family to consider. Her parents are already disappointed their daughter doesn't adhere to her Catholic upbringing, but how would it be if their grandchild is "something different from all of us". It is a rough conversation to sit through, not that both don't have good points. Louis takes his feelings for a therapy session with Lipschitz. These scenes have really become one of my favorite parts of Suits. It's both entertaining and comforting to watch Lipschitz let Louis progress through his foods, before stepping in to calmly provide feedback. He understands how even though Louis doesn't practice it, Judaism is a large part of his identity. He cautions Louis about having a child with Sheila if they are not on the same page. When Louis sheepishly tells him it's too late for that, Lipschitz says it's making a decision together that matters, not what the decision is. He congratulates him with a hug.

But there is a pleasant surprise for Louis when he goes home. Sheila prepared one of his mother's recipes. She got it from Esther, who reached out. Louis is uncertain what this means. But Sheila says that Esther just wanted to express how happy she was for their pregnancy and to let Sheila know that she loved her. And that it wouldn't make a difference how they decided to raise their baby.
"My sister wouldn't do something like that."
Louis agrees that they can find a positive way to blend their identities, so they will probably get a Christmas tree that year too. (Sheila's face lights up). As beautiful as this scene is, it doesn't stop. Louis says he visited Lipschitz and was reminded that what matters most to him is a family. So he gets down on one knee to propose. Sheila stops him. She wants to be the one to propose this time. This scene could not have been more lovely, and yet it's not the best moment for this couple in the episode.

The next morning Sheila interrupts Louis's wedding daydreams with some news. It was a false positive. She's not pregnant. I've wondered if Sheila was as excited about the prospect of being a parent as Louis or if it meant as much to her. No doubts left. Rachael Harris near about broke my heart. Sheila looks absolutely devastated, not immediately about to burst into tears, but completely stricken with loss.
And Louis just could not react any better. He immediately goes to her to comfort her. This is just a speed bump. And there's even a bright side, because they got to have tough conversations they needed to have. He doesn't express a single bit of disappointment or anger. Rick Hoffman making me weep right here. Louis spends the day with Sheila, only checking into the office much later in the evening. It is devastating but it's also incredibly wonderful to see how he handles it.

"Here to drink your milkshake."

In an episode already packed with two great arcs, it was completely possible that Alex and Robert's collaboration would be overlooked. We haven't gotten the best Alex material this season. Thankfully, that didn't happen. Robert called Donna to ask her to send Alex on a vacation. A work vacation that is. The destination a gorgeous winery upstate, which Robert owns. He offers Alex the chance to try some of his wine, and it's awful. Even worse, it's vinegar. This is why Robert needed help, because he lost his entire harvest due to the wine barrels he purchased not being delivered in time.  It is not just a vineyard for Robert, not a cash source or anything like that. Drinking wine makes him feel close to his late sister Jazmine. After the case he worked with Rachel last season that reminded him of his sibling, Robert wants to keep his memories of her alive. It's very frustrating to see an entire crop of grapes go to waste, good for nothing but being thrown away. Robert is strongly convinced that the barrel maker is racist, and that's why he flipped him off.

But their meeting with the barrel maker and his attorney uncovers a different motive. The community is upset at Robert usurping the previous owner. 
"Our families have worked these vineyards for generations, and you just come waltzing in here with your Wall Street money like you own the place."
The previous owner lost the vineyard after one bad harvest, so it's understandable why they are upset that someone rich from the city has barged into their neighborhood. Robert is furious though, which leads to him clashing with Alex. He wants to go after the people who wronged him big time. Alex doesn't believe that is the best course of action, especially since the barrel maker has offered to make financial restitution. This is personal for Robert though. He lashes out at Alex, reminding him who is in charge. Alex doesn't waver.
"I don't give a shit if your my boss. I'm your goddamn lawyer."

Robert sends him packing. A conversation with Donna is in order. She tactfully tells Robert that usually when a lawyer and client are having trouble it's because the client is at fault. An apology to Alex follows. Robert decides to take the restitution from the barrel maker and build a community tasting room to reach out to his new neighbors. Later, Robert thanks Donna for her advice. They are in danger of becoming friends.
"What next? We have fun nicknames for each other?," Donna jests. Yes, actually. They sign off calling each other "Red" and "Pops".

In Conclusion

This episode was a great one for bringing the family closer together, with Samantha giving Harvey an assist and Robert leaning on Alex. Sheila and Louis's story was moving but also a realistic exploration of the challenges of parenthood. Beyond that, though, it brought energy and spark, with brilliant opportunities for each cast member to shine. It was mesmerizing and didn't dawdle anywhere. Everyone from the writers to the actors to the crew should be really proud of this composition.


Donna and Samantha chatting in the office and making fun of Harvey when he came in to apologize was a delightful scene. The show has made a good decision by moving their friendship forward.

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