Promises, Promises are getting broken in Suits season 8 episode 3 (Recap)

SUITS -- "Promises, Promises" Episode 803 -- Pictured: (l-r) Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen, Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter -- (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network)
SUITS -- "Promises, Promises" Episode 803 -- Pictured: (l-r) Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen, Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter -- (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network) /

Suits continues its transformation with an episode that further alters the firm’s trajectory. Here’s what happened in Suits season 8, episode 3.

This week’s episode of USA‘s Suits makes a very clear statement. There’s absolutely no doubt left that this isn’t the show it used to be—nor should it be. This is a bold new frontier for a gutsy show and that comes with a jolt of adrenaline.

“Promises, Promises” is not related to the musical of the same name. It involves the promises that have been made to various people in the wake of the firm’s merger, and how they all can’t be kept.

Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) opens this week talking with new partner Robert Zane (recurring guest star Wendell Pierce) about their senior partner problem. Zane decides to delay the decision, reasoning that one of their choices could take themselves out of the running before they need to choose. Actually, he suggests one of them could get hit by a motor vehicle, but the sentiment is clear.

And why is one of the firm’s cleaning ladies tearing up? Especially in front of Harvey, who doesn’t do well with emotions of any kind?

Elsewhere in the busy world of Suits, Alex Williams (Dule Hill) finds out that his new colleague Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl) is undercutting him by making a deal with one of his client’s biggest competitors. Alex isn’t going to take this without a fight, and he goes right to Samantha to express his displeasure.

"Alex: I’m here to tell you to back the hell off…I don’t know how you did things before, but around here, we don’t stab each other in the back."

Samantha retorts that Alex’s client Gavin Andrews isn’t worth his trouble, and she has no plans to change her course of action. Hey, remember when Dule Hill and Katherine Heigl were on the same side in Doubt? Seems like it was a long time ago, doesn’t it?

While they’re at loggerheads, Zane is meeting with Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman). Louis thinks that our old friend Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull) is an equally great candidate for partnership, and he’s right, but Zane is skeptical. He wants to see Katrina’s management potential, so Louis tries to stick her with his favorite associate Brian.

Elsewhere, the cleaning lady from the teaser—her name is Anna—wants Harvey to help her get enough money so she can help her ill mother. She thinks a hotshot like Harvey Specter can make a difference with the building’s landlord, and because Harvey has a bigger heart than he ever lets on, he agrees to help.

But anyone who remembers Suits season 7, remembers how much of a jerk David the landlord is, and he’s still a jerk.

After speaking with Katrina, Louis has to deal with Alex and Samantha’s issue. He agrees to help Alex by ordering Samantha to drop her client, but makes very clear that Alex had better deliver his and not leave the firm empty-handed. It’s a dangerous game they’re playing, but this series is always a little bit dangerous.

"Louis: [Alex] realized that you were trying to undermine him, which is why I’m going to tell you to stop pursuing Delta."

Samantha agrees to drop Delta, but not before she tries to do some sort of awkward in-your-face thing with Louis that’s just painful to watch. It’s like she’s trying to be Scottie and just failing at it. And speaking of failing, Harvey realizes his battle with David is officially on, and tells several of the associates that they’re going to war. But Donna just as quickly talks him out of it.

“Promises, Promises” then throws Brian somewhat under the bus when Katrina is late to their planned meeting and he’s got to start talking about a case he’s just been handed. It’s no surprise when he flails and the client takes personal offense, threatening to drop the firm entirely. Poor Brian. First he gets chewed out over his kid last season, and now this.

Brian talks to Katrina afterward, and discovered she was late because of migraines she’s just developed because of stress while she pursues senior partnership. She asks him to keep it quiet so he agrees to bite the bullet on her behalf. Once again, Brian gets reamed by Louis.

"Louis: Right now, John Bigelow isn’t the only one who never wants to see your face again."

Suits then gives us a reference to the still very much missed Mike Ross when Harvey offers to send Anna’s case to Mike’s old legal clinic, only to discover that neither Nathan (Peter Cambor) or Oliver (Jordan Johnson-Hinds) are there. So who will help Anna now?

And while Alex has made Gavin happy, Samantha’s words come back to haunt him when Gavin is now asking him to launder money. Sounds like we need this guy. Alex runs back to Samantha and essentially demands her help to get out of the situation; she refuses at first, but then changes her mind. However, she warns him Gavin will go to any length to protect himself.

But the real MVP of “Promises, Promises” has to be Brian Altman. Despite getting eviscerated by both Bigelow and Louis, he’s still in the library offering to help Katrina and reassuring her. He tells her she’s exactly the kind of senior partner he wants. In return, Katrina tells Brian to take the case to court himself, so he can redeem himself in everyone’s eyes.

There’s still a David issue, though. Not only has Anna lost her job, but David’s making her problem the whole firm’s problem by shutting down the elevators. Zane is now furious with Harvey, and he has Louis and Donna standing behind him, too.

"Louis: I don’t know what it is you think you’re doing, but it needs to stop."

Zane orders Harvey to drop Anna’s case, but Harvey isn’t willing to let David be a jerk, and he’s also stunned to see his friends go against him. Donna finds him in the copy room and suggests he’s still missing Mike, and that Mike can solve the problem. Harvey does call his old partner, but decides to find a solution on his own.

In the final minutes of “Promises, Promises,” Suits has Alex confront Gavin with the reveal that he’s just assumed control of Gavin’s accounts from his niece. Gavin tries to fire him; Alex replies that he’ll make sure Gavin doesn’t see a dime of his own money if he pulls anything shady ever again. Touché, Mr. Williams.

After Brian wins the Bigelow case in court, Katrina appears in Louis’s office to go to bat for her new friend. She explains about her renewed migraines and her fear that they would cost her the shot at partnership. Louis assures her that he won’t tell Zane, while Harvey hands a file off to Donna knowing that she can get through to David—after all she did it before.

So Donna tells David that the legal clinic is filing a class-action lawsuit against him and there’s more coming, unless he hires Anna back and starts paying overtime. But not only that, she’ll get Harvey to be his personal lawyer in future. While she walks out in true Donna fashion, Samantha tells Alex that Zane promised her partnership as a way of burying the hatchet. But will it last?

TV fans knew that Suits season 8 would be a season of change; the show doesn’t lose two of its original cast members and launch a spinoff and not become radically different. But this episode is particularly stark in how it illustrates that this isn’t the same place anymore, particularly with how the team is in opposition to Harvey’s plan to battle David.

Donna’s right when she says this is a Mike kind of case, but Suits fans want to see Harvey going to war and taking the landlord down several notches. We’ve come to root for the firm helping the less fortunate against the big bads, so to have even Donna and Louis telling Harvey to back off is a bit of a kick to the teeth. That’s not what we want to hear.

Hopefully the rest of the season won’t take the heart out of the firm—yes, Mike was the heart of the show metaphorically speaking, but as Harvey sort of points out near the end of this episode, that doesn’t mean the firm can’t have learned a few things from him, too.

And three episodes in, it’s still taking time to wrap one’s brain around Samantha Wheeler. She’s positioned to be this strong, no-nonsense character, but it seems like she’s trying too hard, on all accounts. The other characters in Suits season 8 make their presence seem effortless; Samantha’s talk with Louis looks like it’s bordering on harassment, and her ego is unappealing.

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All the characters on this show have some degree of arrogance, but she’s so heavy-handed with it that it’s a turn-off as a viewer. Again, though, this is only the third episode; perhaps her character will deepen as the show goes forward.

But “Promises, Promises” teaches us how everyone at the firm needs everyone else. They want to be lone operators and get what each of them wants, but they can’t do it alone. Alex has to lean on Samantha to deal with his client; Katrina and Brian wind up needing each other; Harvey has to fix his problem (albeit off-screen) with the help of the legal clinic and Donna.

The episode doesn’t have the emotional payoff we’d want to see and that Suits is so good at, but it makes clear that this is a different show, and a different playing field. All of these characters need each other, which is risky as they all are also competing with one another, so which instinct will win out in the end?

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