It's been a terrible week for TV drama fans. First Scandal bumped off a major character, then The Good Wife axed one of its most beloved players, and now Suits is putting the screws to one of its awesome ensemble. Seriously, we're just going to buy stock in tissues after this.
When Louis is smiling and talking about how today is his day, you know that's pretty much putting a target on his back. That's how TV tends to work. Next time we see him, he's late for court and overstressed, and by the time he gets to where he needs to be, he's so wound up that he collapses in the middle of his remarks. This is not a huge shocker - if you had to bet on which member of the Suits cast would have a heart attack, the smart money was on Louis Litt - but that's not the point. Neither is whether or not he'll make it; Jessica tells everyone else that he's going to be fine. It's not the what, it's the how everyone deals with it.
And everyone deals with it differently. Donna immediately goes to the hospital to be by Louis's bedside; Rachel dissolves into tears; Mike and Harvey are tasked with taking over Louis's caseload and keeping his health status a secret from his clients. That last part proves to be more difficult as one of said clients - Tony the Previously Mentioned Corporate Raider's right hand man Jonathan Sidwell - approaches Mike with an unsavory task: help him get out of his job in such a way that he's not trapped by his non-compete clause.
It's about thirty seconds before Jonathan's boss finds out about this idea and is infuriated. He was already visiting the firm to have another soon-to-be-ex-employee tossed aside. Harvey is not impressed by the resulting temper tantrum and says as much, which is one of the many reasons we love Harvey Specter. He doesn't take crap from even the most abrasive clients....even as he goes back to Mike and tells him that he's going to enforce Jonathan's non-compete whether he wants to or not.
By the halfway point, Louis - who has proposed marriage to Sheila (Rachael Harris) and wants Harvey to be his best man at their wedding - is back at the firm. Almost right away, he's approached by Rachel, who is upset that Jessica refuses to honor the verbal agreement she made with Louis that the firm would pay for her law school tuition. Since she presents it as a nameless hypothetical, he doesn't realize what she's referring to, and basically tells her that she doesn't legally have a leg to stand on. And as if upsetting Rachel isn't enough, he then infuriates his new fiancee with his expectation that she'll leave her job at Harvard in order to move to New York. But we all knew Louis isn't great with women. Or most people.
Jonathan confronts Mike, whose actions have caused him to lose the job offer that he had. This prompts Mike to confront Harvey, and declare that he wants to to go legit. He's not happy with the idea of being stuck in the same job his whole life, like Jonathan is apparently about to be. Harvey tells him the only way he'd ever be legitimate is to "go to a small town in Iowa where no one's ever heard of Harvey Specter or Jessica Pearson or anyone else," which of course isn't good enough for Mike. The next day, he switches sides again, and throws Jonathan a legal bone. When it works, he's rewarded with an offer to be in-house counsel at Jonathan's new company.
Rachel, meanwhile, pushes her issue all the way up the food chain to Jessica and Harvey. She wants to negotiate a new contract, again, by using Harvey - and the fact that Jessica paid for his law school - as an example. "Rachel's right, I'm pretty awesome," Harvey quips, which is the best part of this whole subplot.
You know what's not awesome? Although Louis finally persuades Sheila to move to New York by speaking about how his colleagues are his family, he's heartbroken when he learns that she's not interested in having children with him. And just like that, they go from being engaged, to being over. Swallow that at the end of the hour, world.
"Heartburn" is an interesting episode, because the advertised main point - Louis having a heart attack - is actually not that much of a story at all. It's only really a starting point to set up the real drama of the episode, because all of the situations that occur happen because Louis is not at Pearson Specter temporarily. It's the threat of Louis being fired that makes Mike overstep his bounds, and Louis's absence that makes Rachel have to bring her need to Jessica instead of him.
When you look at it that way, it's a not so subtle reminder that Louis has a real and vital function at the firm. Sometimes, we may forget that, given that he's often used for comic relief or as somebody else's adversary. There's not a lot of suspense here - it doesn't help that we've been subjected to truly nervewracking episodes of Scandal and The Good Wife that have rendered us shocked enough this week - but instead, we're almost reflecting on the character of Louis Litt.
The episode also continues to expose the weakness in Rachel's storyline, and to an extent, Rachel as a character. When the episode of her negotiating her return to the firm first aired, some of you commented that she came across as a bully. This episode probably won't help that perception, because she spends most of it pushing every button to try and get what she wants. On one hand, we have to remember that for her, the tuition money she's after makes or breaks her dream of being a lawyer, so of course in her opinion it's worth crying over and having confrontations over.
On the other hand, it's doubtful that a paralegal who talks to her boss in the way Rachel speaks to Jessica would still have a job right now. Rachel can sometimes come across as pushy, and this is one of those times (the teaser for next week's episode doesn't do her any favors either).
If there's one real quibble to be had, though, it's not necessarily with this episode as it is with the back half of Season 3 so far. Any writer will tell you that character arcs ebb and flow. Some characters have more screen time in one part of the season and less in another part. And after spending some time on her ill-fated relationship with Stephen Huntley in the front order, we are definitely seeing less of Donna in the back six. She has so far existed her to support everyone else in their stories. Which, as understandable as it is, we can never have enough Donna. Ever. We'll have to see if next week's episode changes that, while we brace ourselves for the final few episodes of the season.
Suits continues its third season next Thursday at 9 PM ET/PT on USA.