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jessica draped dress

Top line: the women’s costumes, especially Jessica’s, were gorgeous this week! And Patrick J. Adams directed the episode, including, presumably, the opening shot of Rachel sitting in bed, wearing a sweater without pants (as one does – not) and almost but not quite showing the camera what she has or doesn’t have on, under that sweater, in the spot where her pants would be if she were wearing them.

risky shot

The ‘sexy’ banter between Mike and Rachel that follows touches on the topics of Game of Thrones (2nd episode in a row for a GofT reference, and after two GofT cast members have appeared on previous seasons of Suits – someone on staff is super into that show), sexual domination, and being tied up (yawn, and ew), which means we’re relieved and grateful when the landline phone rings, Professor Gerard calling for Mike.

gerard

Gerard asks Mike to convince Harvey to take on a whistleblower case. Some guy who used to work for Liberty Rail says he was fired because he knew about the company’s coverup of faulty ‘heat sensors’ – this episode’s drinking game prompt – that caused the big accident we heard about last episode in which people tragically died. Mike says no thanks, because Harvey and Jessica are not keen on seeking damages from big corporations they would rather have as clients, but then Gerard mentions that he knows Mike’s secret (AKA The Secret That Will Never Ever Die As a Plot Engine), not that he’s blackmailing Mike or anything.

donna cactus

Mike remembers he became a fake lawyer because he wants to help people, same as Claire, from last week’s flashback, did. So he tells Harvey he’s taking the case on himself, and Harvey says no, then okay fine, after Donna, wearing a beautiful fitted blue dress that totally works with her colouring and her enviably trim and fit figure, brings Harvey a cactus which she waters (wtf?), and tells him not to interfere with young Mike.

On to the episode’s B story, which is a kind of comic/dramatic love-hate triangle involving Jeff, Jessica and Louis. Jeff suggests to Jessica that they go on a romantic vacation together to Paris, her favorite city.

jessica sweater

Jessica agrees to go after doing some decorous chopping of leeks (because leeks = French cuisine) in what looks suspiciously like Harvey’s condo kitchen, while she wears a lovely draped backless sweater that no one would ever cook in, over a bra that either has a very low back strap or is magical.

tricia helfer

In making his case against Liberty Rail, Mike deals with a female lawyer named Evan Smith, played by Canada’s own Tricia Helfer, who I thought might be a former pro wrestler (that would be Trish Stratus) but no, Tricia is a former model (and looks it) who is known for her role in the Battlestar Galactica TV series (the circa 2004 one). Her character is all limp but serious bobbed hair, silk blouses, pastel coloured suits, icy demeanour, and coolly uttered comebacks to Harvey’s wolfish come-ons when he gets involved.

Turns out the whistleblower guy has sued a few past employers and gotten cash settlements, but even so he’s telling the truth this time, really he is! At some point, to provide plot tension, Harvey gets mad and yells, “This isn’t about your parents, Mike!” (though isn’t every episode about Mike’s dead parents, kind of, and their effect on his life decisions? And of course, about Mike’s Secret) and gives Mike 24 hours to make his case, which is not enough time to subpoena the company’s records of safety inspections or whatever. Mike retorts that Harvey is a “cold, heartless, son of a bitch” but it’s okay, they still love each other, and I just realized that Mike has stopped wearing the skinny ties he was once known for. Is this because he wants to help people? And why is that tie so ugly?

heartless

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Harvey’s 24 hour ultimatum leads Donna to do A VERY BAD THING in order to help Mike, which is to con her way into the TriRail offices posing as some kind of inspector, and grab copies of the reports that incriminate TriRail for not having followed proper procedures.

donna white dress superhero

The scene in which Donna does this conning/impersonation is played as general Donna Awesomeness, complete with wacka-wacka musical underscoring. Later, when Donna is wearing a flattering A-line wrap dress – in the show’s trademark colour for women, white – Rachel even calls Donna a superhero for getting the goods, but, spoiler alert: this will not end well.

receptionist

Louis brings the comedy by his varied and several depictions of outrage over the fact that the law firm’s receptionist is answering the phone “Pearson, Specter” and not saying the “Litt” part. He discusses this with Rachel, who kindly (they’re friends again), advises him not to harass the support staff, and with Jessica, who is wearing a fabulous white jacket and kicky black skirted suit when Louis quotes at her the immortal Aretha Franklin song R.E.S.P.E.C.T, saying it’s what he deserves.

jessica B&W suit

When Jessica finds out Jeff paid the receptionist to leave off Litt’s name as a prank, she asks him to make nice with Louis. He says he’ll do anything for the woman he loves, including congratulate Louis sincerely and go for drinks with him. Jessica, wearing the hell out of an elegant pleated white shirt, goes all dreamy-eyed at the thought of Jeff’s devotion.

jessica pleated shirt

jessica grey dress

She’s so touched that, while wearing her second beautifully draped grey dress of the episode like the fashion boss she is, she asks Harvey about the time he told Scotty Mike’s secret. When Harvey admits he wishes he’d told Scotty sooner, because maybe then the relationship might have lasted, she decides it’s time to to tell Jeff. Guess how that’s going to go.

the 3some

Mike presents the contraband evidence about the heat sensor coverup to Evan the hot lawyer. Harvey comes along to declare Evan hot and also to gloat about the settlement and public admission of guilt they’re going to get out of Liberty Rail.

showing vid

But Evan has the last laugh when she lures Harvey to a bar that evening for drinks and shows him video evidence of Donna doing The Very Bad Thing. So he can forget about that settlement – and Evan is going to report Donna’s crime to the district attorney!

bar talk

Louis and Jeff yuk it up over drinks – both actors sell a funny bit about football first downs – but when Jessica comes over to Jeff’s place afterwards, he reveals that Louis let slip while under the influence that the Hardman embezzlement happened two years ago, so now Jeff knows that wasn’t the reason for Louis’s promotion to name partner. Jessica tries to explain that’s why she’s there, to tell the truth, but Jeff declares their relationship over.

we're over

So I guess the trip to Paris is off?

Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto novelist whose latest book is a comedy of manners about food and sex called The Oakdale Dinner Club. Her recaps of Season 4 of Suits are her first foray into the wild world of TV show recapping.

Flashback episode alert! We’ve got two timeframes running this week and both feature Michael Jordan references, because he’s timeless, yo.

rachel in bar

In the present day, Donna and Rachel meet for a drink at a bar so Donna can dismiss a pickup artist with some snappy banter and Rachel can wear a pretty black cocktail dress of the type Donna usually wears to work. They chat briefly about how someone said Rachel resembles Khaleesi’s translator on Game of Thrones, then recap (from episode 12) that Donna told Louis about Rachel having gotten Katrina (again MIA this week) a job at her dad’s firm, and that Louis asked Rachel to be friends again. Trouble is, Rachel could only be friends with him if he can forgive Mike, and he can’t.

harvey swacket

Meanwhile, Harvey, looking suave in a black swacket with coordinated throw cushions, is having a drink with Jessica in his apartment. After they dispense with their icebreaker topic – which basketball play was Michael Jordan’s best – Jessica asks Harvey to make peace with Louis, but Harvey can’t till Louis forgives Mike. So make him forgive, Jessica says.

Harvey decides to force his errant children to get along by tricking them into taking a road trip together to see his first big client, McKernon Motors, at the company’s plant.

all 3 in car

Louis is all up in both men’s grills (sorry, couldn’t resist) during the drive – he tells Harvey he drives like a savage animal, and tears into Mike: he refers to him as a fraud, a disease, a liar and a conman. From his seat in the back of the car, Mike delivers some childish insults of his own, and plays up his vulnerable side – he admits he doesn’t know how to drive, and reminisces about playing I Spy with Grammy on car trips. Louis retorts that Mike is probably lying about being an orphan whose parents died in a tragic car accident.

When the happy trio stops at a gas station that looks like a relic from a 1950’s movie, Harvey goes inside, and Mike and Louis start fighting – in their suits – outside of the car. Louis gets Mike into a chokehold, and blurts that Mike ruined his life and the law firm, but Harvey calls him off before Mike suffocates. Then the two of them make up and become friends again because there’s nothing like a bit of vicious wrestling to bring two work colleagues together. That Mike said he was sorry might have helped, and also when he swore that the only thing he ever lied to Louis about was Harvard.

chokehold

Post-reconciliation, Louis says, “You’re not a fraud,” though Mike is, but who cares as long as we’re moving on from the constant obsessing over Mike’s secret. Harvey gives the reconciliation his paternal seal of approval by handing over the McKernon account to them to share, and Louis offers to teach Mike how to drive on the way home. Aww.

The flashback parts of the episode follow two unrelated story lines from 6 years before the present day: one depicts the rivalry between Louis and Harvey when they were both associates wanting to be promoted to partner, at a time when Hardman was the big boss; the other shows Mike in his bike messenger/stoner days.

blurred skinny pants

The Harvey/Louis back story goes like this: Harvey just signed Michael Jordan as a client! Donna, in a bad bangs hairpiece, was possibly more bossy and know-it-all-ish then than she is now! Harvey wears unflattering skinny pants and short suit jackets to indicate this flashback takes place in the past! Let’s team up Harvey and Louis to get ahead together! But Hardman is a manipulative, promise-breaking, double-talking asshole who pits us against each other for sport! Fuck that, I’m going to try to make partner on my own! Me too! But now someone has to lose so the other can win! Don’t you know that loyalty is all that matters? No, it isn’t, winning does! I hate you forever because you didn’t fight fair! Me too! The end.

apartment

The past Mike story line brings back Mike’s mostly but not totally bad news drug dealer friend Trevor, and Mike’s Grammy, sympathetically played by actress Rebecca Schull (who is apparently unrelated to Amanda Schull AKA Katrina Bennett). Trevor wants to pay Mike’s rent for a year in a rundown but roomy 2 bedroom apartment to make up for getting him expelled from college and prevented from ever going to Harvard (see season 1). But Grammy does not approve of Trevor, so Mike won’t agree to move in.

grammy

While delivering packages to a free legal clinic, Mike crushes on Claire, a law student who is interning there. Claire, played by Patrick J. Adams’s real-life fiancée Troian Bellisario, of Pretty Little Liars fame, is beautiful, smart, serious (she wants to become a lawyer to help people!), and will only date guys who are of the same mind.

better meet cute

So Mike lies, says he’s a law student at Columbia, helps her with an immigration case, and flirts and banters with her charmingly (she is charming and convincing too). Though, this being Suits, they bond somewhat implausibly over references to movies (Indiana Jones, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) that are not of their own era, while eating sausages at groovy downtown Toronto spot Wvrst.

date at Wvrst

For a few days there, Mike gets all motivated to put down the weed, go back to college for real, study the law, and become the man Claire would like him to be. He gives up that plan when Claire’s suspicious boss discovers Mike is not a law student and tells Claire, who has no time for that noise and cuts him dead.

mike smokes

Mike defies Grammy and moves in with Trevor, resumes smoking, and laments ever meeting a woman of Claire’s ilk again. Cue the final flashback scene: Jessica interviewing and hiring an eager new applicant to the law firm – beautiful, smart and serious Rachel. She might want to help people too.

she got the job

pere and fils

If you want to get buzzed, drink every time you hear the word respect in this episode. Though it’s also about manning up, wiping the slate clean, taking a charge (obligatory basketball reference – mine), being a grown-up, and doing what needs to be done (lying) to win, regardless of boring old ethics, sportsmanship, the law, or whether you actually like a single person that you work with, and zzz.

So yeah, Louis still thinks being a name partner equates to being a total dick, and Donna is still trying to overlook his dickishness and be friends again, I’m not sure why – because she’s the show’s Mother Hen? Harvey is still threatening Louis physically (not the most attractive trait in a person, and I just don’t buy Gabriel Macht as a tough guy, sorry), Rachel’s skirts are still one or two sizes too tight, Jessica is still lying to Jeff and feeling guilty about it. And veteran character actor Stephen Macht (father of Gabriel) is back as Professor Henry Gerard, a ethics professor from Harvard Law School who has committed yet another crime, because we are all flawed human beings, even the father figures we formerly put up on pedestals while also blackmailing them.

Let’s rip through the plot summarily, starting with our girl Jessica, who meets Harvey on the roof of the office tower wearing a chinchilla (silver fox?) stole, though I could have sworn it was summer last week when Louis strolled around outdoors with Katrina, played by Amanda Schull, who I just discovered is a trained ballet dancer who starred in the film Centre Stage 15 years ago. Check a young Amanda in this deeply weird clip from that movie, where she pirouettes to Jamiroquai in her toe shoes and heavy black eyeliner, and looks alarmingly like Kelly Taylor (AKA Jennie Garth) on Beverly Hills 90210.

jessica fur

Back on the Toronto rooftop, Jessica and her fur are worried that Jeff is going to find out she lied when she told him Louis was made partner because he knew she’d covered up the Hardman embezzlement. When she asks Louis to play along with her story if it ever comes up with Jeff, he demands to be given one of Harvey’s clients in return, because he ain’t doing nothing for nobody no more unless he gets something good. Jessica caves, because – reasons.

harvey threatens louis

Louis saw that his old idol Professor Gerard was in the office and asks to take over his case, whatever it is. Harvey, who has Issues with Gerard,  refuses to hand him over, threatens to knock out Louis’s teeth, yells at Donna, and acts generally bad-tempered and tiresome. Under Donna’s influence, Harvey eventually agrees to let Louis take on a client named Joan Walsh, who owns a cosmetics company, and was the first client given to Harvey by Jessica when HE became name partner.

rachel hands over file

Rachel tries to warn Louis about Joan Walsh’s capricious ways, but he’s too busy being an arrogant jerk to listen to her and he does bully-ish power move shit like make her stand up and hand him a file rather than walk two feet over to her desk. He takes Walsh out for dinner, and pisses her off by trying to talk business when she wants to drink Manhattans, eat dessert and dance the cha-cha (heh), and also when he makes a business suggestion he wouldn’t have made if he’d listened to Rachel. Rachel later helps him save the situation because even when he treats her like shit, SHE IS A PROFESSIONAL. And a team player. And a grown-up. In a cute coat.

I am a professional

When Walsh informs him that Harvey and Jessica offloaded her onto him because neither of them can stand her, Louis yells at Donna that she betrayed and tricked him with the story about Walsh being Harvey’s first client as name partner. Donna, wearing a sleeveless dress in a week when it was cold enough for Jessica to wear fur,  explains that she’s been supporting and helping and caring about him all along and tells him to “get on the goddamned team.”

goddamned team

Louis goes to see Jeff, demands respect from him in an assholish manner that seems to be an act (for once) and in the process, convincingly backs up Jessica’s story about the embezzlement. This gets him a nod of approval (or was it a nod of respect? drink!) from Jessica.

jessica nod

As for the Macht père et fils duo, here’s their story. You may (not) recall that earlier this season Harvey went to Gerard, esteemed Harvard ethics professor who never liked Harvey, to see if he knew Mike’s secret, for some reason I don’t remember. While in Boston, Harvey discovered that Gerard had serious gambling debts and used this knowledge to blackmail Gerard into doing something or maybe not doing something.

Now Gerard is in trouble again, because when he was traveling, the TSA found $25,000 cash on him, he couldn’t explain where it came from, and he’s been accused of stealing from a victims’ compensation fund he was administering. He wants to hire Harvey – not Louis or anyone else at the firm – to defend him, not because Harvey is a good lawyer, but because all Harvey cares about is winning.

Harvey is insulted (he is too a good lawyer!) and besides, he doesn’t believe Gerard is innocent, so he refuses to take the case till Mike convinces him he should, for the sake of the victims, and because it’s the mature thing to do.

Mike grills Gerard to prep him for court on the poker game story he’s come up with to explain where the money came from. Mike realizes Gerard is lying, and divines the truth: that the money came from a student who bribed Gerard to fix his failing grade in the course, though Gerard doesn’t explain what he wanted the money for (not to pay gambling debts, it appears). Mike finds the bribing student, and strong-arms him into signing a document saying he lent Gerard the money. Problem solved. Harvey even agrees to cover the loan repayments from his unethically-earned mountain of cash at home.

bros

Harvey confesses to Gerard that not only was he hurt that Gerard didn’t respect him, he was disappointed to learn that Gerard is weak and has faults like regular people.  Gerard apologizes for letting him down and admits he respects Harvey’s legal wizardry. He also says he’s figured out that Mike didn’t attend Harvard. But Gerard and Harvey are father and son bros now, so Mike’s secret is safe with him.

after work drinks
Over after-work drinks at a fancy bar, Harvey thanks Mike for his work on the file. Mike asks if Gerard knows his secret – there was something about the side-eye the old man gave him when last they met that got Mike wondering. Not to worry, Harvey says. Gerard doesn’t know. Dum-da-dum-dum.

Next week: a flashback episode! And Patrick J. Adams’ real-life fiancée Troian Bellisario guest stars.

Of White Dresses, Bowls of Shit, and the phrase “Name Partner” Repeated Ad Infinitum

Previously, in the mid-season summer finale, Louis finally figured out Mike’s secret AND that every other series regular already knew it and hadn’t told him, and he used this knowledge as leverage to demand from Jessica that he be made a name partner (check Rick Hoffman’s entertaining enunciation and facial tics/expressions when pronouncing the new firm name in the previously bit) or else he’ll blow the whistle and Jessica, Harvey and Mike will be sent to jail! or be in deep career-ending shit, anyway.

louis face

The episode begins minutes after that demand was made. Jessica, wearing a dove grey suit accessorized with a delicate, multi-tiered necklace that clashes with her brass balls, summons Harvey back to the office at night, and updates him in Louis’s smug I’m-now-your-overlord presence. Louis wants the announcement of his new name partner status made the next day but Jessica says she needs some time to sell the deal to the senior partners, and instructs Louis not to tell ANYONE until she’s ready.

jessica necklace

Louis, of course, ignores this dictum and tells EVERYONE. He starts with Mike, whom he does not plan to fire, but to break, by overloading him with horrible, below-his-intellect-level, gasp – paralegal type work. He also tells a teary Donna, who is wearing white dress #1 of the ep and whose mascara is at last smeared (hooray for verisimilitude!), that their friendship meant nothing and she’s dead to him.

donna white dress #1

Louis also shits all over Rachel’s lawyering abilities and future as a lawyer. This causes her to cry, and Mike to threaten to beat up Louis. So happy families, all around.

Louis takes time out from stabbing his way through the Jessica-Harvey-Mike-Rachel-Donna quintet to check in with Katrina and offer her back her associate job (recall that she was forced to resign in the summer finale), though he does not tell her about Mike’s secret. She appears to accept his job offer, but later Rachel asks her father, Robert Zane, to hire Katrina, not as a favour, but because she’s a damn good lawyer. Not sure what the strategic thinking is behind that suggestion.

Harvey also drops in on Zane, to thank him for pretending he might hire Louis, and to tell him not to bother pretending anymore because Louis is returning to the firm. Zane thinks Harvey owes him one regardless, and asks him to deal with a dispute Zane’s firm is having with another law firm. Turns out Harvey’s ex Scotty now works for the other firm, so Harvey meets her at a bar, and asks her to settle the dispute. More tears ensue as Scotty rightly calls out Harvey on what a hard-hearted dick HE is, but hey, she loved him once and he’ll be in big trouble if Zane figures out the Mike story (which Scotty knows!), so she’ll do what Harvey asks this once but NEVER AGAIN. If this is her actual final appearance on the show, it’s nice to see that the costumers dressed her in a pretty sapphire-blue dress, rather than something like the awful crinkly white number she wore in her previous final scene. Any bets as to whether she’ll be back someday? I predict Scotty and Harvey as a romantic couple is part of the series’ end game. Maybe.

scotty sad smile

Harvey accurately describes Louis as being a total dick in victory, yet despite Louis’s asshattery, or because they don’t want to eat shit (big bowls of it, according to Jessica, in white dress #2 of the episode) forever, the others try to make peace with Louis, or be sort of friends again, or at least get him off their backs, because (episode title).

white dress #2

These efforts mostly backfire, as when Mike reminds Louis, after being made to memorize all of Louis’s cases, that he used to be a man of integrity. Not anymore, Louis snarls. Donna, in white dress #3, pushes the hardest for détente and promises honesty with Louis forthwith, only to be asked by Louis if she ever slept with Harvey. She tells the truth – that she did, once. Look for that admission to be used against her and Harvey in the future.

white dress #3

Jessica and Harvey publicly welcome Louis to the firm as name partner and preside over an unveiling (that Louis insisted on) of his name being added to the sign in the office reception area. My favorite bit: when Mike and Rachel lean against the wall amidst the unveiling crowd and talk about how fucked up everyone and everything in the firm is, also known as what I used to do at office parties when I had a semi-corporate job. They also compliment each other’s gutsiness and willingness to beat up bullies, and say they love each other because yeah, violence!

mike&rachel talking shit

announcement

Jessica and Harvey deliver snarky speeches at the law firm gatherings that make their antipathy for Louis clear to anyone with ears, though Jessica thinks her barbed comments sound more sincere than Harvey’s. In fact, she thinks Harvey’s such a bad actor that she conceals from him until the last minute – lest he spoil it – her little power move against Louis: that his new partnership agreement includes a clause he must sign asserting he’s a co-conspirator in the Mike-is-a-fraud situation. Louis balks but signs because he wants the name partnership so badly, as Jessica knew he would and does. Jessica thinks she’s one-upped him here (which, has she, really? Looks to me like Louis is still winning, so far).

peplum suit

Jessica, in a fabulous black peplum suit, celebrates her little finesse move by lying to Jeff – she admits Louis blackmailed her but says it was because of her non-Mike-related past business crimes/sins, though she has the decency to look conflicted about this lie behind Jeff’s back.

Remember Jeff? Hunky guy who’s sleeping with Jessica but has a thing about honesty between fuck buddies who are also law firm partners? He brings the number of key players who don’t know the secret that will power the engine of this show for at least one more season to three (the other two are Robert Zane and Katrina). But something about his broad shoulders and furrowed brow tells me he’s the person who’s going to find about it next.

jeff

Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto novelist whose latest book is a comedy of manners about food and sex called The Oakdale Dinner Club. Her recaps of Season 4 of Suits are her first foray into the wild world of TV show recapping.

The food: Homemade Chinese noodles with Meat Sauce and Fresh Garnishes

IMG_4463

The story:

One of the dishes brought to a meeting of The Oakdale Dinner Club in my novel of the same name is a Chinese dish of noodles with meat sauce, garnished with fresh cucumber sticks. The sight of the dish causes a (somewhat pretentious) character named Tom to proclaim it the basis of some Proustian memories he formed in a Szechwan restaurant in Montreal decades before.

Those Proustian memories are, of course, mine – the first time I had the dish was in Montreal, in the 1980’s, when I was visiting my brother, then a student at McGill University, for the weekend. To me, a lifelong devotee of Cantonese chow mein, this new noodle dish in a bowl was different and delightful. I loved the contrasting tastes, textures and temperatures of the hot, slightly spicy meat sauce, soft noodles, and crisp, cold cucumber.

This past summer, I tried and deemed decent the version of it served at Mother’s Dumplings in Toronto:

IMG_4679

But I preferred the iteration I devised after combining elements from two recipes I found online and a third recipe that comes from a dearly beloved old cookbook called Cooking for Crowds. To which I added shiitake and water chestnuts, because I really like shiitake and water chestnuts.

My version is pictured at the top of the post, and the recipe for it appears below. Also pictured is the recipe as executed by a professional chef this past September, when I collaborated with the lovely organizers of the Kingston WritersFest to put on a festival event called The Kingston Dinner Club, during which I read from The Oakdale Dinner Club and spoke about food in fiction, while the attendees dined on a meal that featured food described in the novel.

Served alongside a refreshing salad of chicken, mango, and avocado in a lime vinaigrette (a recipe I blogged about here), the Chinese noodles with fresh meat sauce and fresh garnishes shone. They tasted good too.

kingstonmain

Chinese Noodles with Meat Sauce and Fresh Garnishes

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 lb. fresh Chinese noodles
1 T. sesame oil
1 lb. ground pork
3 T. sherry
1 tsp. sugar
4 T. soy sauce
4 T. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 T. sweet chili sauce
½ cup sliced scallions (white part)
2 T. canola oil
½ cup sliced water chestnuts
1 c. sliced shiitake mushrooms

For garnish:

1 ½ cups fresh bean sprouts
1 ½ cups English cucumber strips (cut into 2 inch long julienne strips)
1 ½ cups fresh baby spinach leaves, cut into julienne strips

optional garnish add-ons or substitutions: 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (green part), 1 cup thinly sliced radishes, chopped fresh coriander leaves

Method:

1. Mix pork with sherry, sugar, and soy sauce in bowl. Let stand.

2. Cook noodles in boiling water till tender, loosened and separated (a few minutes). Drain in colander, shake to remove moisture, and toss in bowl with sesame oil. Set aside.

3. Sauté white part of scallions with mushrooms in oil until browned. Add pork and stir-fry until loosened, cooked through and most of the liquid has cooked off.

4. Stir in water chestnuts, hoisin sauce and sweet chili sauce and cook for a minute or two to blend.

5. Add noodles to pan and stir fry for 1-2 minutes to heat and mix with sauce.

6. Turn noodles and sauce into bowls. Garnish each serving with some sprouts, cucumber strips, spinach, and other fresh garnishes. Serve warm.

The food: Sweet Potato and Leek Vichysoisse

soup

The story:

In my novel The Oakdale Dinner Club, the character Mary Ann, who is itching to have an extra-marital affair (for quasi-justifiable, “get hers” reasons, after her husband cheated), brings to a key meeting of the dinner club something another character refers to as “the unfortunately named” Engorgeous Soup. The recipe comes from a (fictional) cheesy cookbook Mary Ann has found called “Cooking for Lovers” – on another occasion, she makes a Chocolate Orgasm cake from the same book – and she hopes the soup will act as an aphrodisiac on her intended affair prospect.

I didn’t describe the soup in detail in the book, but the soup I had in mind when I was writing the passage was a Sweet Potato Vichysoisse that has been in my home repertoire since 1985, when I found the recipe in The Silver Palate Good Times cookbook.

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The vichysoisse is smooth, silky, and rich-tasting, thanks to white wine and lime zest/juice that deepen the flavours of the sweet potatoes, leeks, stock, milk and heavy cream. A bowl of the soup, garnished with frizzled leeks as shown in my photo above, would make a lovely light lunch or supper served alongside a few chunks of toasted focaccia, say.

Sidenote: you can hear me talking about food, affairs and The Oakdale Dinner Club with the CBC Radio One “Host Shelagh Rogers at CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter web page.

Sweet-Potato Vichysoisse*, adapted from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook (by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins)

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
4 leeks (white part only), well rinsed, dried and sliced
6 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté until soft and transparent.
2. Add the stock, wine and sweet potatoes. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Let cool off the heat about 15 minutes, then stir in lime zest and juice, milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until very smooth.
5. The soup can be served hot or cold, with garnishes of your choice.
6. The recipe says it serves 6, but I find it makes more like 8-10 servings.

*Aphrodisiac qualities not guaranteed.

louiskey

The summer finale of Suits did what well-crafted, satisfying stories are supposed to do: it gave us an ending that was unexpected but inevitable, an ending that surprised, yet made sense given all that has come before, in this half of the season, and even further back. So that was some good work by the Suits creators and writers – nicely done. Heck, I was so busy admiring the story-building skills on display in this episode that I hardly noticed the fashions. Except for when I paused to marvel at and envy the slimness of Sarah Rafferty’s rib cage in one of her many fitted white dresses, and when I was jolted into remembering some of my own long ago work fashion mistakes at the sight of the severe V-neck Glen plaid dress that Katrina wears in the scene when Jessica shows up to give her the axe. I hope Katrina, her loyalty, and her beautifully coloured curtain of blond hair get to stay for the winter part of the season, and that she gets some softer, more flattering clothes to wear too.

Harvey’s a little volatile in temperament, isn’t he? One minute he’s making his compassionate face at Louis on a fake-looking boxing gym set (the generic boxing posters, all in pristine condition, were the giveaway), and saying that he’ll do anything for the guy, and two commercial breaks later, he’s ready to go punch Louis out. Though I have to say that Gabriel Macht, a very handsome and fit-looking man, is the possessor of a lean build more suited to a male model than to a boxer, his demonstration of an acceptable array of punches notwithstanding. It seems more like tennis would be his sport. Or downhill skiing. Or yoga.

Anyway, Louis asks Harvey to let him take three clients from Pearson Specter to wherever he will go now that he’s resigned, because otherwise no law firm will hire him, and Harvey says he will speak to Jessica about it, though the firm’s by-laws, as written by Louis himself, do not allow for any client-poaching by departing lawyers.

Jessica, who always says no unless forced to say yes, refuses Harvey’s request and reminds him he should be worrying about holding on to his own client, a drug company called Versalife that may need to be dropped because of a merger going on with two other big drug companies. This means Mike, who has realized Jessica is not his biggest fan, and needs to hit a home run to win her over, must find a way to get past the dreaded SEC regulation 10b-6 which may inhibit the law firm from representing quite so many drug companies. Note: a quick google check indicates that 10b-6 is a real regulation of some kind, but let’s not bother ourselves with knowing another single thing about it. It’s not as if we watch this show for the legal stuff, am I right?

Harvey, still in the helpful phase of his compassionate-angry cycle, presents Louis with New Job Option #1: a corporate counsel position with Proctor & Gamble in Cinncinnati. Louis refuses this, compares Cinncinnati to Siberia, and says that New York is Rome, he and Harvey are both gladiators, and New York is where they must do battle. After ever-compassionate Donna suggests Louis might be happier in Boston so he can woo his former fiancée Sheila, Harvey arranges New Job Option #2, an interview for Louis with a law firm in Boston. I was briefly convinced that this Boston option was going to work out, and that Louis would continue on the show as a Boston lawyer who comes frequently to New York to do business, but no. Louis stops in to see Sheila at Harvard before his interview and the joyous reunion does not go as planned. Sheila sees that Louis is coming to her in desperation and refuses to be his way out. So much for Job Option #2.

Mike, who is almost as compassionate as Donna, though less inclined to have his eyes brim with attractive tears that do not affect his eye makeup, takes over a box of Louis’s shit that was left behind at the office, and tries to engage Louis in friendly chit-chat about a golden key that is the Chekhov’s gun of this episode. Louis’s request to be left alone to brood in peace spurs Mike to set up New Job Option #3: he asks Rachel’s dad Robert Zane to hire Louis at his law firm, though Rachel warns him that all her dad’s favours come with a heavy price. Like Rumpelstiltskin, I’m thinking.

Zane interviews Louis and says he will make him senior partner if he can bring just one client with him, more as a test of his legal skills to see if he can break the Pearson Specter partnership agreement than because Zane wants the client. Louis goes to visit a former client to try to take them back and runs into Katrina who says he mustn’t (and can’t legally) do that, but she tips him off to the opportunity presented by Versalife and that pesky 10b-6 regulation, and asks in return to be taken with him to Zane’s firm. And for the next twenty minutes or so, I thought, okay, this option is going to happen. I could see Wendell Pierce, the actor who plays Robert Zane, becoming a featured player again in season 5, and the who-owes-who-what-to-whom Rumpelstiltskian thing could come back to haunt various characters and yeah, that would work.

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Louis manages to steal Versalife as a client, which gets Harvey fighting-mad, and gets Jessica pissed at Mike because she figures Mike alerted Louis to the opportunity. Mike comes up with an alternate plan that calls for a visit to old man Gillis (hello again, Michael Gross!). With Harvey standing by as referee, Mike apologizes profusely to Gillis for everything he did, said and fucked up with regard to the takeover of Gillis Industries, and makes an impassioned plea for Gillis to put aside his burning hatred of Mike long enough to buy a division of Versalife that’s developed an effective but not necessarily profitable drug to fight addiction (recall that Gillis’s dead son was an addict). Gillis agrees, and Pearson Specter takes back Versalife as a client.

Mike and Harvey celebrate their Versalife victory with a dinner out at which they lovingly if lamely call each other pussies, but they feel guilty enough about Louis to each try to make amends in their own way: Harvey visits Zane and asks him to take Louis on sans accompanying client, and Mike drops in on Louis to break the Versalife news to him, be told by Louis that he’s a brilliant lawyer (“No you are,” Mike says, and made me laugh) and casually asks again what’s up with that damned golden key, anyway.

Jessica acknowledges that Mike’s Versalife solution was crafty so he can stay a little longer, but tells Katrina to resign or be fired because Jessica knows what she did. A tearful Katrina agrees to resign.

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Next comes the one-two punch of the episode and the whole summer season: two intense and powerful dramatic scenes that showcase the impressive acting range of Rick Hoffman as Louis. In the first, Donna comes upon Louis in Harvey’s office, asks why he’s there, and proceeds to crumple before our eyes as Louis moves from a state of casual amusement to quiet intensity to rage mixed with sadness over how Donna has betrayed his friendship by consistently lying about and covering up Mike’s fraudulent existence at the firm. You see, the golden key was something all summa cum laude Harvard graduates receive, which Mike would know if he were really one. Louis has finally figured out Mike’s secret and is ready to call the police and have Harvey, Jessica and Mike all arrested and charged with fraud. Donna too, maybe.

Louis leaves Donna gasping and barrels down the hall to confront Jessica, who reigns over their conversation in a full-on Ice Queen controlled fury. She admits to being a liar and a hypocrite, refuses to apologize, and calls his threat to watch her be led out of the office in handcuffs a bluff. Now tell me what you really want, she hisses. And only at that moment do we see how all the story threads have come together, how the setups have paid off in the perfect possible outcome. Only now do we say, out loud, to the TV screen, with Louis, that he wants to be – and will be – made a name partner. Of the firm to be known hereafter as Pearson Specter Litt.

Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto writer and novelist whose latest novel is a food-centric comedy of manners called The Oakdale Dinner Club. Her recaps of Season 4 of Suits are her first foray into the wild world of TV show recapping. Suits will return to the USA network and Bravo (Canada) in the winter of 2015.

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