Suits Roundtable: We Say Farewell

Meghan Markle and Patrick J. Adams are leaving Suits at the end of season 7. With just one last chance to visit their characters, Rachel Zane and Mike Ross, we decided to take some time to look back at their past contributions to the Pearson Hardman/Pearson Darby/Pearson Darby Specter/Pearson Specter/Pearson Specter Litt/Specter Litt universe and share our hopes for their futures. As will probably be obvious to any Suits viewer, these two talented actors and beloved characters will be sorely missed.

Here’s one that might be a bit controversial: Let’s talk about Mike Ross. What kind of growth, if any, do you think he has shown as a character; and what has his character meant to you in terms of his place in the series? Do you have any favorite Mike moments?

Shana: God, I could write a dissertation on the importance of Mike Ross. Suits is very much a series about the found family at [insert firm name of the season here], and bringing Mike into the picture — complete with his fraud — is what really forced the people at the firm to realize that they were a family and did mean a lot to one another. Mike has also been a big catalyst for getting Harvey to open up and deal with his shit (he still has a long way to go!); having someone that he had to protect at all costs really made the guy come out of his all-business, kind-of-an-ass (still needs to work on that last part!) shell.

Controversial opinion time: Without Mike Ross, there’s no Darvey because without Mike, Harvey wouldn’t have even realized that he had any kind of emotions at all, much less those kinds of feelings for the woman who built her life around him.

As far as Mike’s growth goes, I think that he has done most of his growing up during this last handful of episodes (7B), and I hope that the trend continues with his final appearance. Over the series as a whole, I feel that he never really learned about consequences because he never really had to face them much; even when he finally went to prison for fraud, Mike didn’t stay there very long and also managed to repeat some of his bad behaviors when he became a free man.

But even with the many, many steps backward that he has taken over the years, I still feel like the Mike Ross of 2018 is a different person than the idiot who first stumbled into Harvey’s office. He’s (painfully slowly) started to learn that having an uber memory isn’t everything, and even if something bad is done for the right reasons, it still doesn’t mean that it’s right. I think destroying Jessica finally made him say, “oh, shit. I really do need to think about my actions a little bit more.”

Favorite moments: Pretty much insert any Mike/Harvey banter here, and you’ve got the kind of stuff that I love. More recently, there was obviously the whole, “because Donna is [the one]” conversation. Basically, any time that Mike Ross is the captain of the Darvey ship, I’m here for him. I also like it when he’s trying to do the right thing by the little guy, even though he’s gone about it completely the wrong way for most of his career, such as it is.

Mike’s heart is in the right place, even if he’s kind of an idiot for someone with such a genius brain. I think that will always be my takeaway with Mike.

Cammien Ray: I will start with the area in which I think Mike Ross has not changed, and I think that’s in his desire to be a hero. However, his methods — and maybe motivation — have changed throughout the series. Where Mike was once willing to risk, or even harm, others in order to ensure that he got to complete what he considered to be a righteous or morally-upstanding goal and be the one who saves the day, he’s now at least sometimes willing to do the heroic/right thing without the outcome centering on him being the savior of the world, if you will. Early on in the series, the combination of his (admittedly often justified) cockiness in his skills as a lawyer, combined with his (relative) goodness (at least compared to Louis and Harvey, who were at that point presented as morally-questionable and self-serving), resulted in a classic savior-complex wherein he attempts to be the shining hero who saves clients because he is a better lawyer and a better man.

We reach a crossing point quite early on in the series, however, where Mike’s skills as a lawyer are shown to be fallible, and his goodness as a person is shown to be extremely fallible. Since prison, we’ve seen a series of — while not perfect — good choices, largely due to the good influence of Rachel, and I believe the residual wisdom gained from exposure to Jessica’s balance of right-ness and righteousness, which has culminated in the version of Mike who we see now: fallible as both a lawyer and a man, but not as quick to prioritize his own desire to shine as a hero over the good of others or the success of a case.

My favorite moment for Mr. Mike Ross takes place before prison, however, and during the brief span of time where he worked at a financial/business/accounting type of firm. While there, we see him be something akin to a young Harvey: within the rules but just barely, cocky but not mean, and — for the first time — more calm and assured than the previous nervous puppy-who-wet the bed would have ever been, because he is doing the right thing, which appealed to his wananbe-heroic nature; but he’s not a star, so he’s not insufferable. Helping him stay insufferable, is his assistant Amy — his “Donna,” really — who has him working for her more than vice versa, as exemplified in the favorite moment that I picked: Lunch Psychology

Lau: How can I add something that hasn’t been already said by these queens of words above me? For starters, if you had asked me a few seasons ago if I would be writing an ode to Mike Ross or about him leaving, I would have laughed. There was a moment between Suits seasons 4 and 6 where Mike’s evolution was getting on my nerves, especially during the prison time, because the kid didn’t seem to be learning.

But let’s go to back the beginning: Mike was the perfect fraud because, as antiheroes go, he was one of a kind, with his big heart and dreams to make the world a better place. He got caught on a bad path; and when trying to work his way out, he got on another bad path, so Mike’s growth was layered with lies to keep ahead and survive. But Mike grew a lot — not only because he’s one of the few people that isn’t afraid to call Harvey out on the walls he puts around himself, and his sassy, ironic, funny side was always there — but because, even if only for a short while, there was a moment when Mike was becoming Harvey, he went back to realize what law meant to him and what relationships meant to him.

This wonderful bromance works because Mike and Harvey are very different people that have great core values: loyalty, sacrifice, and a greater good for those that are lucky to call them their friends.

My favorite Mike moment might be during the most recent episode that aired, 7×14, when he was rooting for Harvey to be happy. Pretty much the whole episode. I can’t choose one moment, though, because Season 2 Mike might be my favorite; he was this guy trying to make sense of things, always with a certain amazement at the world he was dropped in. Stoned Harvey and Mike might be one of my favorite moments of the series, too.

Ana: Oh, Mike…Where do I start? I think what made Mike so special and indispensable for so many seasons is that he balanced out Harvey perfectly. Harvey was introduced to us as a man who had his professional life together; he had goals and determination but also the tools to achieve them at his reach. On the other hand, Mike was emotionally open and vulnerable since day one — through his grandma, Harvey and Rachel, to begin with. Not only was Harvey a knight in shining armour for where Mike’s professional and intellectual journey took him, but the same goes the other way around. It was because of Mike that Harvey was forced to become openly vulnerable in a place where he was used to having an upper hand, and as he continued being pushed — not only by the secret, but Mike’s personality itself — he slowly became a more caring and grounded individual. Harvey’s loyalty and twisted idea of how you should hire people to work for you (lol) led to Mike becoming the man and lawyer he always wanted to be; but to me, seeing Harvey become a developed and emotionally open person largely because of Mike is equally satisfying and important for us to have been able to see throughout their iconic journey together.

With that being said, beyond my appreciation of his balancing role in Harvey’s turmoil and development, I think the motives behind Mike’s own development are one of the (obviously) more important paths the show took us on. Not only has his past made him an emotional enough character to encourage others to open up and balance out the reclusiveness of the other relationships on Suits — the way we got to see them in season 1 — but it has also added a layer to his professional journey, which makes it all that more special. To me, Mike was never just a problematic kid with a dark past and a photographic memory; he is a character which has gone through a tremendous inner battle of the good versus the bad since the second we meet him. He isn’t just a do-gooder; he is also genuine when he wants to risk it all to do right by people. That’s an important story to tell, and for anyone out there, trying to battle a dark past or an inner conflict  between wanting to do good and do well for yourself, Mike Ross will always be our guy, even when he is gone.

And as far as favorite moments go, even though the bromance between Harvey and Mike is next level iconic awesomeness, I want to mention the relationship between Mike and Donna. She has always, even if in the shadows, been a part of his secret and journey (“That’s my boy” <3). She rooted for him, challenged him to be a better person, and always spoke her truth and helped him with Rachel. Surely, that is just what Donna does as a character, but seeing the way Mike appreciates and responds back to her devotion and love for him is what makes them so special in my eyes. Call her a sister or a mother figure, or whatever you want, but experiencing her becoming a source guidance in Mike’s life when he didn’t have it and desperately needed it, and seeing him root for her now in return — the way she has been rooting for and standing by him through all the seasons — that is what I wanted to see before Mike goes and must be one of my favorite things Suits gave us this season.

Same question, different character: Let’s talk Rachel Zane.

Shana: Rachel Zane has been on a journey since day one — except for during that awful season (4) of which we never speak. My biggest frustration with Rachel was that she was always so smart, so capable, and so strong…all while occasionally being written as someone who was helpless and crying way too much. (Exhibit A: that season.)

My favorite thing about Rachel has always been that she refused to take the easy way out. With her father’s connections, she could’ve become a lawyer much sooner and could have had her pick of jobs. She didn’t go that route; she went the route of earning her way. Our current “president’s” daughter will never relate.

A great runner-up is just the way that Rachel has been such a good friend to basically everyone at the firm, even when they didn’t always deserve that friendship. She has a huge heart and knows how to use it, even in the cutthroat world of corporate law and even when she’s trying to dig her way to the top of it. That’s just so incredibly inspiring to see, especially when it comes to Rachel’s relationships with the other women of Suits. This show does those female friendships so well, regardless of each woman’s “rank” within the business, and the biggest robbery of all time has been that there just haven’t been enough of those storylines. Remember when Jessica Pearson took Rachel under her wing, which actually took some pushing from Rachel herself? That was golden. Television needs more of that.

Suits needed more of that, Rachel needed more of that, and I definitely needed more.

Cammie: Unlike the retrospective approach I took for Mike, I almost wish I could answer this question solely focusing on the current state of Rachel because it almost breaks my heart to think of the missed opportunities and questionable story arcs — or lack thereof — we’ve seen for Rachel previously. But while a part of me wants to hold up picket signs with “Justice For Rachel” regarding the writing she had in some previous seasons, which, at times, denied her a continuing journey and forced her storyline to be stroking Mike’s ego and reassuring him that he’s still a good boy, there’s an ironic — if certainly not intentional — appropriateness of this woman being denied respect and agency outside of the leading man for so long, which is certainly reflective of both entertainment and legal/corporate culture.

If you’re asking me to pick a favorite moment, I will pick the moment Meghan Markle said if they write another shower scene for Rachel, she will refuse to do it and walk away, which is not exactly a Rachel moment per se; but retrospectively, it was around the turning point where Rachel began to get a more consistent journey as a lawyer and complex, interesting woman outside of the men she had to carry. Certainly, honorable mention goes to the extended storyline shared between Rachel and Jessica while Mike was in prison. Every scene with those two was mesmerizing, both in terms of writing and delivery; and I while I wish we could have had all the story in the world for Rachel, I am deeply grateful that we got that story while we still could.

Lau: Rachel started as the perfect sidekick for everyone at the firm: this chirpy, sassy young woman working like crazy to earn her place. As we get to know her and understand where she comes from, one of the best aspects of this character is how she fights to be her own woman and not Robert Zane’s daughter. With her professional growth into becoming a lawyer, her side-by-side work with Jessica…She might not have a superpower like Mike with his perfect memory, but Rachel has definitely earned the respect of anyone around her.

That was, of course, only when the people with power allowed it. At moments, the writers seemed to forget what made Rachel great, and she became a character that didn’t even pass the Bechdel Test. For a while, it was a mess.

However, Suits’ most recent few seasons showed a character that was more than a love interest to one of the main male characters: a great lawyer, friend and partner. Rachel is great because she decided not to get the preferential treatment she could have received and have things easy in life. Because she’s her own person, with ideals and dreams of her own and a sensitive heart that offers another point of view and a merciful perspective when it’s needed.

The best moments were when she stood up for herself and showed her value and how smart she is. Like convincing Jessica to pay for her tuition.

Ana: What I love most about Rachel is her determination and drive. Not only is she motivated and has a clear vision of where she wants to be, but she cares, like Shana already mentioned, about doing it right. This brings me back to the time she said, “I am a sure thing,” and I feel like her story throughout her seven seasons on Suits mirrors that line perfectly. In a world where everyone she is surrounded with, cares about and loves, is doing things in a questionable manner — from Mike’s career path, to Harvey’s professional choices, and Louis’…everything, and Donna becoming COO in an unconventional way — Rachel followed through on her dreams by simply doing the “right” thing.

Of course, going to school and getting a degree is not the only way to succeed in life, but on a show where so much of it is people controversial choices and crossing lines to get what they want, Rachel, even though tempted sometimes, never took a shortcut to get to where she is. Rachel became a lawyer, not through Mike’s abilities or her father’s power, but through facing her fears, working hard, believing in herself and not giving up. Thus, to me, she has always represented an important contrast to Suits‘ other characters; and seeing her climb her way up to becoming one of the best and smartest legal minds they have in that firm was everything.

On that note, my favorite moments of hers, besides seeing her in passing when other characters interacted with her and she always had a big pile of books and papers around her — working (!) — I love the way Rachel’s relationship with Jessica developed. I have always thought that Jessica was the closest thing she had in that firm to a role model. Their relationship went from Rachel standing up for herself and being the first (officially, because…Mike, lol) lawyer who was employed and not from Harvard, to Jessica taking on a risky case with her — which ended up working as a catalyst, not only for the start of what will surely be an incredible career for Rachel, but also for Jessica to separate herself from the firm and start over. Their working relationship was so deeply rooted in mutual respect and talent, which made them such a powerful duo and brought forth all the amazing qualities they have. I wish we could have gotten more.

Machel. The ship. Are you invested? Are you not invested? Were you ever invested? What were some highlights for you…if there were any?

Shana: I shipped Machel, like, HARDCORE when I first started watching Suits. That copy room consummation was everything the television gods ever denied me for my other ships — and then some.

But then that whole fourth season slump happened. And the many, many episodes where Rachel seemed only to exist in the context of Mike happened. And just…I fell out of love with their love.

…until now. Suits 7B has been so great for this couple; and honestly, if we forget that season, then this relationship has really been one of the better written ones. I gushed a lot about this over in my “Inevitable” recap on The TV Addict, though, so I’m not making with the rehashing.

Cammie: I’m currently fairly neutral towards Machel. At times, I’ve liked it but have disliked it at others, as the story for it engaged and disengaged me, usually dependent on whether I felt the pairing was mutually beneficial to both characters or only beneficial to Mike. As a sucker for angst, a highlight might actually be the absolutely heartbreaking moment when, together, Mike and Rachel secure the apartment for Grammy, and the two of them find themselves there right as Grammy has just passed. I know. You can throw things at me for even bringing up such a sad moment; but I feel that, interestingly enough, mutual sadness brought out a lovely chemistry between the two characters.

Honorable highlight mention goes to the more recent (and, in my opinion, much improved) dynamic, where they are an equal power-lawyer-couple team with at least somewhat similar morals and goals, working on cases together. It’s a large step up from the previous dynamic of Mike being a lawyer, and Rachel being the test-anxiety-ridden paralegal who he flirted with to get her help with paperwork and research. I only wish that, proportionally in terms of time, we had received slightly more of this and less of the old dynamic — but I’m happy we got here in the end.

Lau: I used to love their banter in Suits‘ earlier seasons…until Rachel sort of became just a love interest for Mike and her value as a character seemed to be forgotten by the writers. But during the last few seasons, as Cammie mentioned, Machel’s dynamic as this power couple is amazing to see. They might be a bit too sweet for my taste at times; but when they’re in their element,. they are invincible.

Ana: I have never been into the typical push and pull, which from the first scene on gives you a feeling of, “Yeah this will end with them together.” This is why, when I initially started watching Suits, I didn’t really care much for Machel’s romantic tension and the dynamic they had since basically their first scene in the pilot. However, as time went on, and through the secret Mike and Rachel shared, along with trying to find their places in the world as still fairly young adults, I became more interested in them.

As I look back on the previous few seasons, I have to say: The respect and love they have for each other, not only as life partners but also as individuals and coworkers, has pulled at my heartstrings more than once. Thus, as much as I don’t think there is a lack of portrayal of the push and pull they had on TV in other shows, I think the way Suits has dealt with their relationship — this season in particular — has been a joy to watch.

And what do you want for Mike and Rachel’s future?

Shana: I just want Machel to live happily-ever-after and actually get to live their dreams. It’s such a rare thing for shippers to get to experience, and it’s what we deserve. Career-wise…Just…give back to the world. Mike has always talked the big talk about wanting to be a do-gooder; it’s now time for him to walk the walk with his wife, right by his side as his equal.

Also: I want them to get Darvey as a wedding present, just like Lizzie mentioned in the Suits Aftershow for 7×13. Mike has tried so hard to get Mom and Dad together. Just let him have his wish already!

Cammie: If for no other reason than the fact that they are leaving the show together, I’d like for these two characters to stay together, and I would also like for them to stay within the legal field together. Rather than leaving to start their own practice, I’d like to see them join forces with the Good Guy legal clinic Mike worked for before, probably, but I’d be fine either way.

Of course, as a fan of weddings in general, I’d like to see Machel have a wedding. Due to the recent teaser pics released, we know they will have one — and it looks lovely. Also, after 7 seasons of them all but Parent-Trapping Harvey and Donna, I think they deserve to see those two get together before they leave. 🙂

Lau: I would like to see a wedding, which — thanks to spoilers — we know we will get. I also want Mike and Rachel to have more growth, even if we won’t see it and it pains me to think about it. These are two characters that will be missed a lot.

I like to think they’ll be working side-by-side on the west coast and doing some good. But I also hope that we see at least one of them come back to Suits sometime to shake things up for the characters that are left behind, especially because — as Cammie and Shana said — they might be the biggest Darvey shippers and the will they won’t they has to come to an end. Mike and Rachel are the example that you have tons of material to work with a stable couple —  just as much as the road to make them be one.

Ana: I want Mike and Rachel to get to see Harvey and Donna together. That’s what I want. These two are such hardcore shippers, they deserve it more than anything, and…*coughs*, ok I will stop.

I do think that the fact that we have been given so little of Rachel’s storyline as an individual, because much of what we saw of her was as Mike’s girlfriend, will always leave a bitter taste in my mouth. If there was a chance, I would have wanted to see more of that in the future. Much like in 6×10, I wouldn’t mind seeing Mike standing by her side as she does her thing.

But, since we are parting ways with them soon, the happy ending that we know they are getting is all I could ask or hope for. I do believe that wherever they end up, Mike and Rachel’s bond will remain stronger than ever, and they will achieve many great things. That’s enough for me.

The two-hour Suits finale airs on Wednesday, April 25 at 9/8c on USA. Don’t miss it!

One thought on “Suits Roundtable: We Say Farewell

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