TV Review: ‘Suits’ Plays a High Hand As Its Final Season Begins

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USA Network's "Suits"

Tonight, “Suits” begins its final bow with the first episode of its final season and enters into the bittersweet process of saying goodbye. For the last eight years, “Suits” has managed to stay a sleek and snappy series on USA Network. Created by Aaron Korsh, “Suits” follows Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), a deservedly swank and cocky lawyer, and an array of characters at a reputable New York City corporate law firm.

The show’s major hand came from a storyline that saw Harvey sifting through a pool of eager Harvard Law grads, looking to hire a new associate. Through a series of serendipitous events, he meets his match in slacker, weed selling, law genius Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams). The only catch is that Mike is not a lawyer. But that factoid does not stop a knowing Harvey from giving him the job, which sets the series into motion.

Season One Cast of “Suits”

Obviously, “Suits” has had various narratives per season and features a tremendously talented ensemble. But it was this plot point and the chemistry between Macht and Adams that gave the show it’s true footing. These two infectiously traded quips and compliments with equal parts cool and fire. This was a winning pair, and for the first seven seasons the characters Harvey and Mike were front and center. Their relationship was the driving force behind the show’s initial success.

Gabriel Macht, Katherine Heigl, Dulé Hill in “Suits”

In 2017, “Suits” entered into uncharted territory with major casting shakeups. Gina Torres, one of the show’s leads, took a step back from the series (her own spin-off “Pearson” is premiering tonight). Then, if that was not a big enough blow, Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle (yes, the now Duchess of Sussex) left the show at the end of the seventh season. These losses could have potentially been insurmountable, but the team at “Suits” upped their game. The production elements stayed as smooth and sexy as ever. The writers found new compelling stories and untapped depth in established characters. The cast, which added Wendell Pierce, Dulé Hill, and Katherine Heigl, only got better. And at the center, Macht proved to be an ever-steady leader.

Wendell Pierce and Gabriel Macht in “Suits”

The ninth season premiere tonight looks to answer some of last year’s most burning questions and kick start the final season. The firm is in hot water yet again, as name partner Robert Zane (Pierce) took the fall with the Bar Association to prevent Harvey from loosing his license. Zane’s protege, Samantha Wheeler (Heigl), grapples with loosing the only person she has ever trusted. Newly minted managing partner, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), looks to be an honorable leader, while working with lawyers Alex Williams (Hill) and Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull) to save the firm, no matter the cost. And after years of dancing around what was obvious to the rest of the world, COO Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty) and Harvey seem to finally be in the same place, at the same time, with the same intentions: to be vulnerable and in love.

Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty in “Suits”
CR: NBC

When “Suits” comes to a close later this summer, the final episode count will be 134, making the series the longest-running original scripted program in the history of USA Network. This achievement is a noteworthy accomplishment given the fact that the show’s creator had never written an hour-long procedural before. USA clearly had a lot of faith in this program, and that faith has paid off in abundance. For several seasons, “Suits” was the network’s most popular series, elevating the network’s standing. Despite “Suits'” popularity, there has been a steady decline in viewership each season since the show’s premiere. The production team and network came to the decision that “Suits” would come to an end with a ninth season consisting of ten episodes.

Tonight’s season debut is entitled “Everything’s Changed.” But as the series plays its final hand, one may ask if everything has truly changed? Yes, and no. As always, the firm and its lawyers are on the verge of losing big. The characters walk a very thin moral line to squeak out victories. Tempers flair and insults are thrown. Will the firm make it through this week’s catastrophe, or will they finally fold?

In spite of the familiar plot points pulsating through this episode, the tone of “Suits” does in fact feel different than that of previous seasons. Thematically the stakes are as high as ever, but there is a calmness that prevails. “Suits” is looking to come to a deservedly memorable close by paying homage to its past, while gracefully accepting that its end is near. Much like the characters, audiences have come to love, the show is older now, more mature and ready to move on. “Suits” seems primed to deliver fans a worthy goodbye.

The ninth season premiere of “Suits” airs tonight on USA Network 9 pm (EST).

What do you think of “Suits”? Are you sad to see this show end? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!  

GRADE: (★★★)

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