Suits Recap – Season 5, Episode 14: Self Defense

Trevor and Gibbs have the same nose.

Do Trevor and Gibbs have the same nose?

It occurred to me last time, with talk of Mike’s trial being 2 weeks away, that the season might end without us getting to know the trial’s outcome, which would suck big-time as a payoff on the setup we’ve been going through.

So when this episode opened with Turncoat Trevor (looking rather gaunt this season, I hope the actor is okay) testifying at the actual trial, I was relieved. Then there was an immediate flashback to 3 days earlier, and our two main men decided to conduct an in-house mock trial to practice before the real trial, which seemed like a time-filling device, and I doubted again. Only to have Gibbs get the trial moved up midway through the hour, and even conclude her case for the prosecution before the episode ends.

Now I wonder if there will be enough trial-related story to fill the two eps that remain, but curious anticipation is an enjoyable state to be in, right? Kinda like how I’m dying to know where formerly evil butler Thomas Barrow will end up on PBS’s run of Downton Abbey, yet I’ve managed to resist the siren call of U.K-sourced spoilers. Because anticipation is fun!

mock trial-ing

Back to Suits: Mike and Harvey disagree about which one of them should be the lead defense lawyer for Mike, so they decide to duke it out via a mock trial and decide based on who ‘wins’ it. Harvey takes Gibbs’s part, Jessica is the judge, Mike represents himself, and a bunch of suited extras stand around on the office set and pretend to be the rest of the firm’s lawyers.

Benjamin has a certain B.J. Novak quality to him, don't you think?

Benjamin has a certain B.J. Novak quality to him, don’t you think?

While the mock trial lasts, Harvey and Mike both prove they have hidden resources.  Mike has the loyalty of Benjamin, the law firm’s IT guy, who is willing to hack into government databases and create false records for him, because unlike the real Harvard grad assholes, Mike treated him kindly. And Harvey shows how cruel he can be when he ‘destroys’ Rachel on the mock trial stand by outing her affair with Logan Sanders and painting her as immoral and untrustworthy.

Rachel is rattled.

Rachel is rattled, but hey, nice eye makeup job.

Harvey’s hard-heartedness (shall we just call it misanthropy?) convinces an emotionally bruised Rachel that Harvey should defend Mike after all. Because if Mike were to eviscerate his former best friend Trevor on the witness stand, the jury would hate him for it, and be less likely to rule in his favour. Armed with the ability to engage in that kind of pragmatic strategic thinking, Rachel is going to make a fine cutthroat lawyer someday!

real trial

At the real trial (boy, was that a quick off-stage jury selection process), Harvey discredits Trevor by revealing that he was a lying drug dealer who made a deal with Gibbs to avoid persecution and has been out to get Mike since that time Mike took up with Jenny, Trevor’s ex.

Donna stumbles, crumbled and wonders if she should have worn a more modest neckline.

Donna stumbles, crumbles and wonders if she should have worn a more modest neckline.

Gibbs counters by calling Donna to the stand and asking her about the day Harvey hired Mike, and why wasn’t Mike  on the list of Harvard grad candidates that Donna had scheduled to be interviewed? The normally (over-)confident Donna stumbles under questioning, then crumbles (she feels terrible afterwards, and possibly during)) and asserts her 5th Amendment rights rather than say anymore, though Jessica had already decreed that no one in the firm was to do that because it would make them look guilty.

Restrain me all you want, I don't give a damn.

Restrain me all you want, I don’t give a damn.

Jessica made that decree pre-trial, after Gibbs stepped up her harassment of Jessica and Louis, the two people she had not yet gone after with her blackmailing ways. Jessica hangs tough, and even gets a restraining order against Gibbs that says she cannot speak to any of them without legal counsel present, but Louis – ah, Louis – weakens.

Gibbs channels Lola in Damn Yankees.

Battle of the Grimaces.

Gibbs threatens to charge Louis with witness tampering because he sent Sheila Szaz to Argentina to avoid the trial. Jessica assures him no charge will stick, but Gibbs keeps at him with the threat/promise that prison offers neither mudding nor ballet performances to attend. So if he keeps pretending he didn’t know about Mike and didn’t only become name partner because he knew, he can look forward to some serious arts and sensory deprivation in his future.

Look at those rosy cheeks!

Look at those rosy cheeks!

Harold, our favorite curly-haired, blond, rosy-cheeked, in-over-his-head, sweet-natured lawyer, brightens up the episode by offering to publicly swear that he knew Mike at Harvard. This is exactly what Mike’s case needs – someone who will falsely testify that they knew him there. That is, someone who will back up the borderline credible story Mike and Harvey have concocted – that Mike didn’t attend classes at Harvard, but commuted from New York to Boston once a week for tests (to which I say – what about the group work?). Mike appreciates the offer but knows Harold would fall apart under Gibbs’s cross-examination, so he approaches another buddy – Jimmy Kirkwood – a former PSL lawyer for whose aunt Mike previously secured a generous settlement from an unscrupulous insurance company.

Sing Jimmy, sing!

Sing Jimmy, sing!

Jimmy at first refuses to perjure himself and risk prison to save Mike, but he shows up in court, takes the stand, and sings an upbeat tune about how much fun he and Mike had when they were hanging at Harvard together. Things are looking up until Gibb tries, and partially succeeds, to cast doubt on Jimmy’s credibility.

NOW you want me to defend myself?

NOW you want me to defend myself?

After the prosecution rests, Mike is optimistic about his chances, but Harvey is not. He thinks they need to play one more face card to sway the jury – and that card is Mike. But the only way Mike can ‘testify’ without having to submit to Gibbs’ incisive cross-examination skills is if he represents himself. And how the hell is he supposed to do that at this point, midway through the trial? Tune in next week to find out how, and to see if Louis turns traitor once and for all.


  • no sign of Jack Soloff this week – can it be that I missed him, his luxuriant hair, and his envelope of secrets?
  • no Jeff, Scottie, or Gretchen either
  • just watched the second last episode of Downton Abbey and (spoiler alert) I think Thomas Barrow is going to be okay!


Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto novelist and sometime TV show recapper whose latest novel is a suburban comedy of manners about food and sex called The Oakdale Dinner Club.


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