Suits Recap – S7 E13: Inevitable

In which Harvey and Mike banter to beat the band, as if (spoiler alert) their beautiful friendship is soon to be over; we say goodbye (and good riddance) to Paula; Harvey refuses to accept Donna’s resignation from the firm; and we welcome back Stu the trader, and Harvey’s mom.

Harvey, alone

Let’s start with the case of the week, because it’s neither very interesting nor very germane to the relationship drama/character building goings-on that keep this show alive.

A former client named Teddy walks unannounced into Harvey’s office, making us realize that the show writers have not bothered to give Harvey a new secretary to replace Donna. Jessica never had one either. I guess in the Suits universe managing partners don’t have dedicated support staff. Makes no sense, but okay.

A few years ago, this Teddy person sold his shoe company to Adidas, who have now sold it to a sharky guy named Baxter. Baxter has decided to move the manufacturing off-shore so he can make more money. Teddy wants Harvey to see if there’s a way to stop this happening for the employees’ sake. Harvey asks Mike to take care of it, giving Mike the opportunity to joke about them being Superman and Aquaman, versus their old Batman and Robin shtick.

donna nice dress

Mike comes up with another way to increase the company’s income that still protects jobs, but Baxter refuses it. Harvey and Mike decide the solution to Baxter’s dickishness is to short his stock. Donna, wearing a great dress that is, for once, office-appropriate, and has a bit of an Anna Karenina or maybe Doctor Zhivago vibe to it, asks her old buddy Stu the trader to do the stock manipulation. When he brings up the illegality and risk involved, she tells him he’s getting soft and needs to strut his gunslinger stuff again.

When the stock-shorting doesn’t have the desired effect, Teddy and Harvey come up with a new plan inspired by Donna’s new COO position at Specter Litt: they will give the shoe company employees an ownership stake, and they & Teddy will buy the company back from Baxter (yawn).

Meanwhile, in Harvey’s private life, he makes a dinner date with Paula so that they can remember why they like each other (how much fun does that date sound like?). When asked, he suggests she wear “the dress with the thing,” the thing apparently being a low-cut neckline that shows off her cleavage. Kind of like the necklines Donna wears to work every day, right Harvey? His mother, with whom I had forgotten he is reconciled, calls and cheerily suggests dinner on the same night. Paula doesn’t think she and Harvey are really at the meet-the-parents stage yet, but agrees to meet the mom. The dinner seems to go well. The mom tells a story about how Harvey the adorable child once stood on the piano and sang (we need to see the home video of this, please). Before leaving, the mom thanks Paula for being the special person in Harvey’s life who suggested he mend fences with her a few months ago, which comment leads to this reaction

awkward Paula reaction

because the special person who suggested that was Donna. After dinner, Paula tells Harvey she can’t handle being in a three-person relationship with an ex who is also his co-worker. Harvey, looking for a way out of this dicey sitch, asks Stu to offer Donna a job. Stu is happy to do it, because he thinks Donna is aces.

Donna does a good acting job (those theatre skills) when Stu offers to hire her, and says she’ll think about it. She then goes to Harvey. She knows he put Stu up to the job offer, and asks why he didn’t fire her if he wants to get rid of her, and why didn’t he stick up for her? He could never fire her, he says.

Donna visits Paula to apologize for the tragic kiss mistake and pleads for Paula’s support – as a woman and a professional –. for Donna to keep her job. Paula asks her to swear nothing like the kiss will ever happen again. When Donna hesitates, Paula sees where this is going – someone’s going to have to leave the show, and it won’t be a series regular and star who has renewed her contract for season 8.

Donna reads in voiceover a resignation letter that she leaves on Harvey’s desk after cleaning out her office. Harvey goes to Paula, says, “I wanted this to work more than you know, but I can’t give you what you need,” and breaks up with her. They both cry, Paula more so.

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Harvey makes a surprise drop-in at Donna’s apartment, where she is having a great hair evening in her classy lounge wear, as one does (not). He rips up her resignation letter, and asks her if she’ll come back – she will. He declines to come in. Not tonight, he says. Looks like Donna better decide soon if she has feelings for him or not.

On the Louis and Sheila front, we see no under-mud sex acts this week, thank god. Instead, they indulge in some role-playing games: she plays a burglar who breaks into his house, there’s talk of a prisoner and guard scenario, and also of a story line involving a director of admissions (her real job) and a janitor.

When Sheila’s upcoming wedding announcement is printed in the Times, Gretchen warns Louis that disaster will ensue if he keeps seeing her, but he tells Rachel (wearing a lovely, work-appropriate blouse), when she asks if he would like a plus-one for the wedding, that he has never felt so confident and king-like since embracing his bad boy side.

Rachel white blouse

That’s until he walks into Sheila’s office in costume as a nerdy professor (or something) and is introduced to Sheila’s fiance, Xander. Louis saves face (those theatre skills) and exits awkwardly, then overhears Xander mocking him, and Sheila going along with the mocking. Where’s confident King Louis now?

Like Harvey, Rachel also gets in some bantering time with Mike. Rachel and Mike’s conversations mainly concern a questionnaire on life plans that Father Walker has asked them each to complete, part of the pre-marriage counselling he’s giving them. Mike claims he’s not a planner (since when?) and can’t think that far ahead. Rachel introduces him to a game her parents used to play called Bullshit. The idea is to spitball crazy, half-formed hypothetical ideas at each other, without fear of censure.

Mike & Rachel playing Bullshit

So where would they be in the future if they could do whatever they wanted? Mike likes the idea of moving to San Diego, surfing every morning, and working 2 hours a day at a legal aid clinic that they would run together. Rachel suggests living for a year in Iceland, and having the adventure of a lifetime. Give the showrunner and writers credit – this conversation paves the way nicely for Mike and Rachel’s exit from the series, to happen at the end of the 3 hours that remain in this season.

Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto novelist and sometime TV show recapper. Her seventh novel, coming in June 2018,  The Showrunner, is a darkly humourous, suspenseful Hollywood-noir novel about female ambition inside the TV biz. Check out its book trailer:

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Suits Recap – S7 E12: Bad Man

In which Louis gets the episode’s A story, complete with flashbacks to his teen years; Dr. Lipshitz and Tall Oliver return; and Jessica appears briefly, wearing what may be the most entertainingly ridiculous item of designer clothing that the show costumers have dressed her in yet.

mud job

Question: the sex talk between Sheila and Louis is supposed to be silly and stupid, and make them look foolish, right? Asking as someone who is embarrassed for the actors when they perform cringe-worthy scenes like the one where Sheila ambushes Louis at his mudding place, reaches under the mud, and seems to give him a hand-job. Yuck. Her reason for doing this: she wants to continue fucking Louis on the sly, though her wedding is a week away.

When Louis discusses the Sheila issue with his shrink Dr. Lipshitz, whom he now addresses as Stan, Stan asks what’s behind Louis’s pattern of falling for unavailable women. This question leads to flashbacks of Louis in 1986 in Scarsdale, when he was a burly, smiley teen who dated a girl named Mitzi, and his idea of a fun night out was to take her to a production of Uncle Vanya.

Mitzi only dates Louis because he’s a good guy her parents approve of, and she’s under the thrall of a bad boy who is Louis’s opposite.  Young Louis is devastated when he learns about Mitzi’s two-timing, courtesy of his younger but wiser sister Esther (remember beauteous Esther?).

In the present, Louis decides to sic a private detective, Holly Cromwell, and a gambler on Sheila’s fiance in order to discredit him, but Gretchen shuts down that plan, and suggests that if Louis loves and wants Sheila, he should tell her so.

Columbia Law School on Hoskin

Louis approaches Sheila outside Wycliffe College on the University of Toronto campus (subbing for Columbia Law School, which I bet looks rather unlike either Wycliffe or U of T’s Trinity College across the street, seen behind Louis) here:

Louis by Trinity College

He suggests they try to start over, but (like Paula) Sheila is not interested in having her heart broken again. She just wants a bad boy to have sex with.

wycliffe college

By the way, this whole doughy-loserish-guy-as-bad-boy thing reminds me of George’s bad boy episode on Seinfeld, and I think Seinfeld did it funnier. Anyway, Dr. Stan feels that Louis is not and never will be a bad boy, but Louis goes back to Wycliffe College at night, kisses Sheila right there out in the open, tells her they’re going to fuck in her office with the door unlocked, and declares himself a bad man. As if this will end well.

I like Gabriel Macht, but his slender build and Earth-father off-season social media persona make it difficult for me to suspend my disbelief any time Harvey boxes aggressively at his boxing gym, or threatens to beat people up while dressed in an expensive suit.  So picture me scoffing during this episode, when he does both. He also gets his own set of flashbacks, both to childhood (the actor playing him as a child is inexplicably dark-haired, why?) and to 10 years ago. The flashbacks are in service to Jessica’s request, after her name is removed from the wall (and dragged through the mud), for $2 million of her payout to be made to an untraceable bank account. She won’t say why. She does say that she’s not breaking the law or trying to evade taxes, and will declare the amount eventually.

Luckily, Harvey has for years been running an unpaid, off-the-books ‘side tab’  for Rick, a music publisher/record company mogul who owns the rights to Harvey’s dad’s semi-obscure jazz recordings. Harvey asks Rick to pay part (!) of his tab to Jessica’s untraceable account, but Rick can only pay if he sells his catalogue (worth millions, though not as many as formerly) to another company. And if he does that, Specter Senior’s music will no longer be played, not even once a year by a semi-obscure jazz radio station. Harvey struggles with this decision, but convinces Rick to sell. He also convinces the youngish buyer, whose New York office affords a great view of Toronto’s old and new city halls (located side by side downtown), to pay a price slightly higher than his first insulting offer.

Old and New City Hall

Harvey laments the loss of his dad’s music with a sympathetic Donna over an office drink, because they are friends, and always will be, even if Donna’s striking Dolce & Gabbana day dress is more suited to a garden party or wedding than to a routine day at a  law firm.

donna in dolce & gabbana

After the payment is made, Jessica calls in from Chicago to say that her pretty but crazy-ass-cut Monse top doesn’t work as office-wear either, but she doesn’t care. She tells Donna she knew all along about the side tab, of course. The implication being that getting Harvey to finally collect on it may be why she asked for the untraceable deposit. As a way to clean house post-exit, from afar.

Jessica in Monse

In case you wondered about Paula’s not-much-of-a-cliff-hanger reaction to Harvey’s confession from last week: it was that she needed some time alone to think about Harvey’s lying, Donna-kissing ways. Or she did until the end of this week’s episode, when Harvey comes over and says he likes Donna being a part of his life and sharing in his victories and defeats, but he still wants to be with Paula. Paula admits she feels threatened by Donna, and they (P&H) make up. Bets on whether their relationship lasts into season 8 with Katharine Heigl coming on board as a series regular?

Mike and Rachel show no sign this week of getting their wedding underway, despite their pledge to do so last time. They do, however, cook and prepare to consume more pasta, the official food of their couplehood. They also spend time with Tall Oliver, who approaches Mike about a deal between a local food bank that Tall Oliver represents and a Specter Litt client that has jacked up the price of products it was selling to the food bank at cost.

Tall Oliver is Mike’s friend, and his fight-for-the-little-guy motives are good, but Mike has to fight for his own client. Even Rachel encourages Mike not to go easy on T.O. After some verbal sparring, legal ass-kicking and back-and-forthing between the lawyers and their clients, Mike wins the case in his client’s favour and tells T.O. he shit the bed, just like Harvey would have told Mike. Afterwards, tall Oliver drops in at Mike’s apartment to thank him for treating him like an equal (this is how male friendship works in the Suits universe, go figure), and calls Mike a motherfucker, but in a friendly way. Then he, Mike and Rachel sit down to some linguine with pesto, because pasta rules.

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The purpose of the case seemed to be to show that Mike is adopting Harvey’s tough love tactics and behaving more like an asshole senior partner, but when Harvey offers him the position, Mike declines, saying he wants to spend more time with Rachel before they both quit the series. Only four more eps remain!

Next week: Conflict between Harvey & Donna and between Mike & Rachel. But will there be pasta?

Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto novelist and sometime TV show recapper. Her most recent book is a suburban comedy of manners, The Oakdale Dinner Club. Coming in June 2018: The Showrunner, a darkly humourous, suspenseful Hollywood-noir novel about female ambition inside the TV biz. Check out its book trailer:

Suits Recap – Season 7, Episode 11: Hard Truths

Rachel + MikeHere we go, finally, starting off the back six episodes of season 7, AKA the last TV episodes of Meghan Markle’s acting career. This is also the beginning of Patrick J. Adams’s home stretch for the show, but what proportion of viewers tuning into Suits these days are here to scrutinize Meghan? Seems like that many to me, too.

Hell, Vulture, a site that has shown little interest in Suits before, is even keeping a running summary on Meghan’s remaining scenes in Suits, with gifs. IMO, Meghan’s new international fame is why USA Network decided to delay airing the back six, originally scheduled for January, till now, so that Meghan’s Suits wedding at the end of April would lead up nicely to her real-life May wedding date.

Meghan scrutiny aside, this episode is mainly about the Kiss (treated as SUCH a big deal) that Donna planted on Harvey in S7 E10. You know, this one:

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We open immediately post-kiss. Harvey is rattled/flustered/thrown for a loop. He won’t talk to Louis about the pressing problem that is Jessica’s disbarment as arranged by lawyer nemesis Malik, and goes home, presumably to put on a cardigan, drink, and stare into a fire while reliving the passion that coursed through him when Donna’s lips touched his. But, surprise, Paula is at his place, having used the key he gave her. Rather than tell her what happened, he asks her to move in, ostensibly because she makes him feel like the outside world – replete with attack kissers and attack lawyers – doesn’t matter. She declines his offer, though, because she fears heartbreak, and possibly because her shrink sense is tingling about the timing of Harvey’s suggestion.

The next morning, Harvey storms into Donna’s office, says he does NOT want to talk about the kiss, and angrily asks her to promise it won’t happen again. She’s like, okay fine, whatever, because she felt NOTHING. Moving on to business matters, she suggests the firm hire a new senior partner, but he shits all over that idea because she’s not a lawyer, and he doesn’t trust her judgement anymore. Louis agrees that Donna should go ahead and bring in for a meeting some hotshot senior partner prospect who’s in town, but Harvey, in full asshole mode, sabotages the interview to spite and embarrass Donna.

donna + harvey

Donna, wearing a too shiny for work satin cocktail dress, confronts Harvey in the Bay Adelaide Centre lobby and they discuss the kiss. She confirms she doesn’t want more from their relationship, since she felt NOTHING. He is still pissed because a) he did feel something, and b) now he’s lied (by omission) to Paula and it’s all Donna’s fault. Funnily enough, Paula doesn’t agree when he does confess, two days after the fact, to the kiss having happened. She’s only mad at Harvey for the lying.

On Louis’s advice, Donna apologizes to Harvey. She is sad he thinks he can’t trust her judgment on work matters, but hey, what about all the flirting and work spouse bestie confidences they’ve engaged in over the years? She’s not the only one who has acted inappropriately.  Harvey eventually comes around and tells her he appreciates the times Donna put him first. He also takes her advice when she says she doesn’t think it would be a good idea to make Mike a senior partner, as Alex had suggested. And they hug.

Harvey + Donna Hugging

Alex gives Mike a juicy case to work on, partly to thank him for helping rescue Alex  from the thorny Reform Corp sitch earlier in the season, partly to help Mike advance in the firm, and partly on Harvey’s urging. The case is a dispute between Alex’s client, a Fortune 500 company called Quality Foods, and one of their distributors, Arctic, who transport food in refrigerated trucks.

The purpose of the case seems to be to give Mike and Rachel something to do, or not do, together. Mike asks Rachel for help with it, she says no, she’s too busy. He thinks there’s something scammy going on with it, she thinks he looks at all corporations through evil-tinted glasses now. Despite being busy, she does some research into the case, and finds out there is a scam going on. By way of explaining what she thinks Arctic is up to,  she asks Mike to recite their freezer contents by memory, and he reveals that the freezer contains pizza, ice cream, pasta sauce, and leftover lasagna made by Rachel. (Also vodka). Wait a minute – are we supposed to believe someone with Rachel’s ultra-slim build is eating that kind of carby and dairy-heavy diet? I don’t think so.

After they ‘win’ the case for the client, Mike gives Rachel credit publicly and privately for figuring shit out, and tells her they should work together more often, cuz it’s fun and otherwise they don’t see each other much. She suggests that instead, they work on getting their wedding underway in time for the season finale. He agrees.

On the Jessica disbarment front, Harvey & Louis try to find a way to remove Jessica’s name from the firm gracefully, and to give her the pay-out she deserves for her ownership stake at the same time. Louis tries to strong-arm the Ethics Committee guy into stalling the announcement of Jessica’s disbarment, but only gets a few days reprieve.

Harvey at Harbourfront

Harvey goes down to Toronto’s Harbourfront neighbourhood to see Stanley Gordon, a former name partner of the firm who we’ve met before (don’t ask me when or why) and who apparently takes meetings on his yacht in Toronto harbour. Sidenote: does anyone have an idea what New York-adjacent location the pier is supposed to represent, or should we just all now accept that Pearson Specter Litt is a New York law firm that has its head office in downtown Toronto?

Harvey wants to restructure the partnership agreement so Jessica can get paid, and he needs Gordon’s permission to do so. Gordon was ousted by Jessica once upon a time, so he’s in no mood to comply unless Harvey fixes some problem he has with a charity that took $10 million from him in exchange for naming rights on a new building, and did not make good on the naming.

Harvey meets the charity woman, accuses her (with reason) of doing money laundering, and gets her to agree to the naming, but Gordon still isn’t happy. Louis points out that all Gordon really wants is to disgrace Jessica. If she’s to get money, she also needs to be publicly shamed for the Mike as fraud lawyer thing, though Harvey, Louis and Mike were all also to blame. Especially Harvey, who hates the idea of blaming Jessica, but is convinced by Louis that there is no other way out.

An off-camera Jessica agrees to the hard truths of being named “selfish, unethical and reckless” in a press release from the firm, signed by Harvey and Louis, announcing that a “disgraceful chapter of the firm’s history is coming to a close.”

Harvey gets to deliver his own hard truth when he admits Paula that he once, years ago, slept with Donna, another lie by omission he has perpetuated. Her reaction to this confession? Tune in next week to find out.

Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto novelist and sometime TV show recapper. Her most recent book is a suburban comedy of manners, The Oakdale Dinner Club. Coming in June 2018: The Showrunner, a darkly humourous, suspenseful Hollywood-noir novel about female ambition inside the TV biz. Check out its book trailer:

Ten Days in the Valley Recap – Day 10 Finale

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Day 10 actually opens in the middle of Day 9, but who cares because this is it, the last episode, for sure, ever, in which all (or most, or, like, some) dangling plot threads will be resolved. Let’s get to it.

Bilson takes Jane for a long drive, ostensibly to calm her down before being taken in for child abduction. Jane starts rambling, as if in a disassociated state, narrating her life story, sort of, complete with flashbacks to her fling with Tom, her meeting with Pete, to  Lake as an infant, and to her own childhood. She admits she was a lying liar who lies, and says Lake is the only thing that matters.

Bilson is acting pretty weird herself – she recites a psalm about the Valley of Death, she has her own flashbacks. One implies she killed Quinn shortly after Jane visited him that time at his bar, or maybe she made him kill himself? Another shows Bilson, spattered in blood after killing Casey and her bro-in-law, hand off an unconscious, chloroformed Lake to some white guy we haven’t seen before, the guy who drove Lake to the cabin.  After the hand-off, Bilson goes home to wash away the blood, and is addressed as ‘Red” by her unsuspecting, nice-seeming, MS-stricken wife. Confirming what we would not have guessed, because it’s stupid: that the big bad guy in this story is so-named because of the brand of cigarettes she occasionally smokes. And we learn that when she did these bad things she was working for Police Gomez.

At Casa Jane, Pete, Tom, Ali, and Lake are being cheerily domestic, playing board games, grilling burgers and corn. Pete is still hella angry at Jane, and wants to take Lake home after dinner. Ali sees Tom being playful and affectionate with Lake, and feels a pang of I have no idea what – jealousy, regret, anger, love, annoyance? She calls Bird and asks what’s happening since Bilson took Jane, why is it taking so long to sort things out? Bird suddenly remembers that Bilson transferred over from narcotics when she came to his department, asks Buddy to track Bilson’s car, and goes off in pursuit of it.

Tom apologizes to Ali about trying to use the story of Lake’s kidnapping to further his career, then picks up from the mail a package addressed to Jane, and opens it. It’s a cassette tape wrapped in a note that reads, “Jane. You wanted the truth. Gus.”   Tom still wants a scoop, so he listens to the tape in Jane’s writing shed.

Still on that long drive, Jane mentions to Bilson that Lake recognized someone at the police station. Bilson stops at a gas station and tries to call Gomez, but can’t reach him. Jane spots a pack of Red brand cigarettes in the car, puts two and nothing together, and snaps out of her fugue state. She pretends to Bilson that Lake was probably lying, and didn’t see anybody, but it’s too late. Bilson drives out to a remote cliff-top spot that overlooks the ocean, and they get out of the car. Bilson confesses that she’s Red, and she took Lake. She pushes and shoves Jane until Jane punches her and draws blood. Bilson is about to shoot and kill Jane, and say it was self-defence, but Jane throws a handful of sand at her, takes a crazy dive down the hillside, hits her head hard on a rock, and passes out. Only to flash back while unconscious to when one of her mother’s boyfriends tried to drown her, another molested and possibly raped her, and her hateful mother refused to believe that these things happened. God, I hate the child-abuse-explains-all trope. Especially when it’s supposed to explain that because Jane was falsely accused of lying as a child, she became a liar/storyteller/seeker of truth as an adult. And therefore, it’s her fault Lake was taken?

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Bird drives up and sees Bilson alone on the clifftop. He emerges from the car with his gun out, and roughs up Bilson until she confesses that she killed Casita Victim #1 (real name Rosa Garcia) on Gomez’s instruction. She and Quinn had been raiding and robbing drug dealers and gangs – nicely, without killing anyone –  just trying to make a little mad money on the side, as one does. When Gomez found out about this lick crew, he blackmailed her into being his hit man. Rosa Garcia was killed because after she was paid to falsely testify against Medina, she wanted more money.  And Casey and her bro-in-law were killed because … I’m not sure, actually. Maybe because Gomez wanted to pin the kidnapping on Gus as a way to avoid the truth coming out about Garcia.

Bilson offers to kill herself and swears she will never testify against Gomez, for fear of what he will do to her wife. Bird says too bad, cuffs her and throws her in his car. Then he looks down the hill and sees Jane’s crumpled body lying below. He runs down and fireman-lifts her up to safety.

Back at Casa Jane, Ali & Tom fight over the tape. Tom sees it as his ticket to a career-making story about police corruption. Ali says that to write the story would be to exploit Lake, who has been through too much already. If he writes it and has it published, Ali says they’re done.

Bird and Jane are at the hospital tending to Jane’s head gash. Ali comes in and gives Jane the tape (so Tom is not going to write the story?), which was recorded by Quinn (when was it recorded, how did Gus get it, and did Quinn kill himself, or did Bilson kill him? We’ll never know.) Jane thinks they can use the tape to incriminate Police Gomez but Bird knows Bilson won’t talk, and Quinn’s taped confession won’t be credible. He has another plan.

At home, Pete tells Ali he is too taking Lake home, and he’s going to sue for full custody. Ali blurts out that he is not Lake’s father, Tom is. Pete is devastated but insists Lake is his kid because he raised her. Ali makes a deal with him: she’ll never tell Tom he is Lake’s biological father if Pete sues only for joint custody, and allows Lake to stay at Jane’s tonight.

Jane knocks on Police Gomez’s door and is taken aback when a child answers. Turns out Police Gomez has three kids, and is a widower. Nevertheless, Jane and he hiss at each other. Bird walks up playing Quinn’s tape. Bird offers Gomez a deal to turn himself in, solo, and save his brother’s political career. He refuses until AG Gomez appears and  urges Police Gomez to take the fall so they both don’t. Also so all the cases that AG Gomez prosecuted won’t be invalidated and the criminals freed.

Bird summons some uniformed cops who’ve been waiting in the bushes and they cuff and arrest Gomez. He tells Bird he will come for him when he least expects it, and promises to rain hell on Jane. Were these threats in aid of a possible season 2 of the show, I wonder? So much for that idea.

Would you believe the episode isn’t over yet? Ali is at Jane’s, reading to Lake, who wants her mama. A news alert pops up on Ali’s phone that Tom’s story about police corruption has been published (so he did write it). Ali sighs and tells Lake that this is good news for Tom. But are Ali and Tom still breaking up? Don’t know. Ali asks Lake if she wants to know a secret, and why on earth would she, but sure. Ali is pregnant! And no one knows except Ali and Lake. How will this affect Tom and Ali’s relationship? We’ll never know that either.

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Still more: It’s finally Day 10. Matt is on set, wearing a fetching combo of scarf, shirt, and denim (I know) jacket  in a symphony of blues. He convinces a reluctant Dominic to come out of his trailer and shoot his death scene. Bird and Jane watch the scene from afar. Bird has notes to give on how realistic it was, but Jane doesn’t care. They make a date to have Bird’s Memphis ribs sometime soon. Bird says Jane is like a song.

And STILL more: Jane and Lake are at the beach. Jane says she picked the name Lake because she loves water. Lake is a little afraid of water. Jane says water is good because, “It’s big, it’s deep, it’s everything – like you are, to me.” Yeah, I don’t get it either.

That’s a wrap on this crazy show that started out strong, as a suspense thriller about a TV showrunner, and devolved into a melodramatic cop show. It was entertaining to watch and scoff at, though, and fun to recap. And I loved the gorgeous and various shots of L.A., taken from the hills above.  I will be forever disappointed that the (Chekhov’s) candy so prominently displayed on Police Gomez’s desk on several occasions did not pay off, either in the show’s climax or finale, but I console myself with the thought that those Rockets/Smarties would have recurred for sure, if there had been a season 2.

Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto novelist and sometime TV show recapper. Her most recent book is a suburban comedy of manners, The Oakdale Dinner Club. Coming in June 2018: The Showrunner, a darkly humourous, suspenseful Hollywood-noir novel about female ambition inside the TV biz. Here is its book trailer:

Ten Days in the Valley Recap – Day 9

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We’re really in the home stretch now, as we  hurtle toward the Ten Days series conclusion, and – spoiler alert – my disappointment in that conclusion.

I take back what I said last time – that Lake being found safe on Day 8 was a deft structural move on the writers’ part. Because no sooner has Lake spent the night at police headquarters with Jane, Pete, a Child Protective Services officer that I will hereafter refer to as  Matron, Bird, and a bunch of other cops, then she and Jane are on the run. Without Jane’s phone, wallet or wits, apparently.

They’re running because Lake recognized Police Gomez from her knothole view in the cabin where she was held captive. She recognized him right after she failed to identify Gus as her kidnapper from a stack of photos that Bird showed her, and evaded Bird’s questions about who drove her to the cabin. Also after Bird left the station to go get yet more info on Cantina Suspect #1, whose real name is Rosa Garcia.

Jane panics, says she’s taking Lake to the bathroom, and runs out of the the building with her. Matron thinks Lake doesn’t feel safe with her mother, so the cops mobilize and go after Jane, who is now being positioned as Lake’s third abductor.

Jane jumps a subway turnstile (nimble work there, Kyra!) and they run onto a subway train. They get off the train when Jane sees some cops, and emerge in sketchy downtown L.A., where Jane makes the TERRIBLE decision to hide out at the home of Sheldon the drug dealer chef, which faithful viewers of this show (all 5 of you) may recall is a cool, large loft with a restaurant-sized kitchen.

Jane has been pretty frantic since the flight from the police station – she’s snapped at Lake several times and lied repeatedly about what they’re doing and when they’ll call Pete and go home. She tries to make Lake play a “game” that consists of inventing a new description of what Police Gomez looks like (she suggests red hair and a jean jacket, as if). Lake balks at this. She doesn’t want to be a liar like Jane.

For no reason I can think of except a need to inject more conflict into the episode, PJ the bike-riding drug dealer is at the loft, having an argument with Sheldon about money. Sheldon starts beating him up (wtf?), Jane expresses alarm, and in the confusion, Lake grabs a portable phone, runs into the bathroom, calls Pete, asks her to come get her, and describes the loft. He heads right over with Ali, Bilson, and some other uniformed cop.

The beating done with, Sheldon cheerily offers to make everyone grilled cheese sandwiches, which is a super weird thing to do under the circumstances. It’s also another nod to Roy Choi, the real-life chef who pioneered Korean taco food trucks in L.A. like the ones the Sheldon character operates, and who’s known for having devised the gorgeous grilled cheese sandwich featured in the movie Chef, the sandwich that I wrote about in this site’s former life as a food blog. (I can only hope Roy Choi is not also a violent drug dealer.) In the post-beatdown lull, Jane borrows PJ’s phone and calls Bird. She tells him Lake identified Police Gomez, and that she thinks Gus was Gomez’s flunky.

P.J., Jane and Lake sit around eating the sandwiches, which do not look anywhere near as good as the movie one, btw. A bleeding P.J. makes a joke about how his scars will help his eventual TV writing career (remember that?) and engages Lake on the topic of hip-hop dancing. I give the writers’ room points for providing continuity here by returning to the one interest Lake has consistently evinced a couple of times since it was established in the pilot, when she danced some hip-hop moves with Jane.

When Jane sees that Pete & co. have arrived, she tries to persuade Lake, if questioned again, to pretend she saw no one. Lake refuses and goes off with Pete, who is appalled that Jane brought her to this den of iniquity and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Ali and PJ exchange awkward hellos before PJ disappears for the remainder of the series. Jane asks Ali to make sure Lake is not interviewed by police. Jane gets cuffed and taken away by Bilson.

Bird visits his ex-wife Chantal at the D.A.’s office, or maybe it’s a courthouse, so she can have her last appearance on the show. He asks her how to find out about someone in witness protection, she tells him that without a warrant his best bet is to sweet talk a young marshal into giving info without one. He intimidates a young marshal instead, and finds out that Casita Victim #1, real name Rosa Garcia, testified against ganglord Vince Medina, and was authorized to be in witness protection thanks to AG Gomez. Oh, and when Bird checked in with forensics, there was no sign of Lake having been in Gus’s cabin.

Police Gomez asks his assistant Amira to tell Matt how the casita story ended – with the killing of Gus AKA Red (wink, wink) – so that the show can be written to reflect the “truth.” She visits Matt and relates the story.  He is suspicious about her motives in telling him, but goes ahead with it as a plot resolution. In a scene meant to be a bit of comic relief (or time filler?), Matt informs Isabel and Dominic, the actors who play the lovers loosely based on Jane & Gus, that Dominic is actually Red, and he is going to die. Isabel thinks that’s way cool, Dominic less so.

Bird goes to Police Gomez and asks him some tough questions. Was his brother sleeping with Casita Victim #1? (No). Then why did he give her a bracelet? (It was a gift, he was grateful to her for testifying.) Was Gus hired to kill CV#1? (maybe, says Gomez  – Gus visited Medina in prison several times). Bird doesn’t believe Gus was Red. Police Gomez tells him to stop fishing, because Police Gomez doesn’t understand that nobody puts Bird in a corner, or, for that matter, tells him where, when and for how long to fish.

What about Tom the intrepid journalist, you ask? Or you would ask, if anyone cared about the Tom character. He spends the night when Lake is recovered writing his version of the kidnapping story, with his phone off and his headphones on -– playing rap, of all unlikely music genres for a guy of his demographic, and more proof of his incompatibility with his Amazing-Grace-singing wife. Hey, what about the missed opportunity that slips by here for him to show his affinity with his biological daughter? He should hip-hop dance with Lake to some of that rap music! Anyway, he has no idea Lake has been found when he emails his story to Jamie the online news site editor. She kills it because it’s worthless now, and she lets slip that she was doing Ali a favour by talking work stuff with him, which pisses off Tom. He snaps at Ali, who is pissed in turn that he would exploit the family drama for a story. These two.

Buddy shows up at the house, he wants to question Lake once more for the case report. Ali tries to stop him, but Lake lets him ask one question – did she see who took her? Lake follows Jane’s instructions (aww?) and lies, says she saw no one.

We close out what is essentially Part 1 of a two-part series finale with Bilson driving Jane somewhere that isn’t the police station. Bilson mentions that her wife has MS, and she has spent years trying to protect her. She also flashes back to taking Lake from Casey’s house and laying her out cold in the back seat of her car.

Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto novelist and sometime TV show recapper. Her most recent book is a suburban comedy of manners, The Oakdale Dinner Club. Coming in June 2018: The Showrunner, a darkly humourous, suspenseful Hollywood-noir novel about female ambition inside the TV biz. Here is its book trailer:

Ten Days in the Valley Recap – Day 8

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Two big events happen on Day 8.

One:  Lake is recovered safely and returned to Jane! With two episodes still to come, yet. I’m calling that a deft structural move on the writers’ part.

Two: While stalling on writing his story, stolid journalist Tom executes an impressive casual handstand in his study, and I finally clue in that Josh Randall, who plays Tom, also played the amusingly roguish Bruce Liddell in Ozark. I much preferred the character in Ozark, but good acting there, Josh! – the miens of the two characters are so different.

Okay, back to the missing child:  The episode opens with Lake singing and jumping around in a carefree manner in a sparsely furnished bedroom of a rustic-looking but not rundown cabin. There is a sandwich and a glass of milk on the floor, so she is not being deprived of food. She removes a small piece of batting that fills a conveniently eye-sized knothole in the baseboard, and looks through it, at… some unidentified pants-clad legs walking by in the adjoining room.

Jane wakes, in Lake’s bed,  from troubled dreams. Pete brings her coffee and is gloaty about how they spooned the night before, but within seconds, they are sniping at each other -– about his drinking, and about her sleeping with the cop (Gus) who they think has Lake.  This reminds Jane of her young adulthood, which we see in flashback, when young Jane’s unevenly crimped hair looks even worse than current Jane’s straw-like do. Jane’s mother calls her a slut and a liar because she had apparently said that the mother’s boyfriend had molested her.  (No more flashbacks to her childhood, please.)

Jane tells Pete if he wants to help he should go to an AA meeting, and she drives off to meet Police Gomez (his given name is Elliot), who has summoned her. On the way, she calls Bird, who suggests she not mention casita victim #1 when she meets Gomez. He also tells her he’s been taken off the case but is still working on it, because no one puts John Bird in a corner. Or on the sidelines.

Ali tries to question Tom about the mysterious story he’s writing, but he’s behind schedule (the story was due 2 days ago, dude) and struggling with it, so he asks if they can ‘pause’ with the fighting and tension until he’s done. He still won’t tell Ali what the story is about or let her read it, which pisses her off further. She goes to Jane’s house to pick up some stuff, and witnesses Jane and Pete squabbling. In Jane’s shed, Ali pokes around and starts drinking what looks like bourbon. When PJ the bike-riding drug dealer shows up, looking for Jane, he and Ali chat. Ali quickly ascertains that PJ is Jane’s dealer and asks to see his wares. She is disapproving of drug-taking in the way that someone who thinks Amazing Grace makes a good lullaby would be, but he defends Jane as taking drugs like Adderall for endurance, not as some kind of creativity booster. While he’s at it, he describes the sexy effects of MDMA to Ali in a fairly creepy manner, and the next thing you know, they’re making out.

Jane & Elliot Gomez meet. He thinks her story – that Gus told her about top secret police corruption shit, knowing she would use it on her show, then kidnapped her child when she did – makes little sense. He likes his narrative better – the one that paints Gus as a madly-in-love PTSD sufferer who kidnapped Lake as an act of reprisal because he felt betrayed that Jane was using him. Nothing to do with police corruption, see? Gomez asks her to give a press conference and speak to Gus through the cameras. He wants her to show the world Gus is a damaged individual and plead with him to return Lake.

Pete is summoned to the press taping to stand by Jane’s side, but he doesn’t stand by her, nor does he speak, so what the hell. On air, Jane goes off script pretty quick, tells Gus she’s knows he’s innocent and implores him to bring Lake back. In retaliation, Gomez confines her to the station for the rest of the day.

While hanging out at Buddy’s desk, Jane flashes back to when her hair was about a foot longer, thanks to some shaggy extensions that were still more flattering than the pyramid-shaped thatch she has now. She mentally relives some of her past seductive moments with Tom and Pete, not sure why. So we could rate her various wigs on a sliding scale, maybe?

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Matt, along with the one other writers’ room staffer (a woman) that this show has allowed to appear in more than a few episodes, come to the station. They want to convince the police to let them keep shooting, for the sake of all the people that the show employs. Jane snaps that Matt has lots of great story ideas but should be writing from a “place of honesty” like she did. He retorts that writing non-fiction hasn’t worked out too well for her. We later hear that Gomez got the studio to agree that they won’t air the show until after Lake is found, but production will be continue in the meantime. On the way out, the female writer sees her girlfriend, who Female Writer thought worked at City Hall or somewhere. What? She’s actually the commissioner’s aide? Hmm.

Remember Gus, the ostensible kidnapper? He stops in at a fishing bait type store meant to be in San Jacinto, but the sign outside clearly says it’s the Rustic Canyon General Store, which is near Malibu and only 30 minutes from L.A. Hey, at least the location they used is in the right state, unlike some shows I recap (cough: Suits). Gus puts a cassette tape in an envelope, seals it, and mails it to Jane at her home in Studio City. When Police Gomez appears on the store TV identifying Gus as wanted by police, Gus gives the clerk $100 to delay calling him in, and goes outside.

In the cabin, Lake eats her lunch. From her spy hole, she sees two pairs of legs, wearing dress pants, walk around in the next room. Then she passes out on the floor, apparently drugged from the milk.

Attorney General Gomez, whose given name is Christopher, drops in on Police Gomez, and complains about how badly Jane’s TV appearance went. He asks who was killed in the damn casita raid anyway. Nobody, Police Gomez says. Bangers. And for the nth time, everything is going to be fine. Chris is not so sure.

Bird goes to visit a police buddy from the evidence department. The buddy gives him Casita Victim #1’s effects, including an expensive bracelet with a Latin inscription. He stops in at the station and tells Jane that Lake’s kidnapping is not her fault – this didn’t happen because of her relationship with Gus. He suggests that the cabin might be registered in Quinn O’Farrell’s name, and when the cops find an address and head there, he’s told by Gomez to stay away and keep out of the case. Yeah, right.

In yet another major breach of police protocol (and story logic), Jane convinces Gomez to take her with them to the cabin.

Bird goes to the jewelry store where the bracelet came from and finds out it cost $10,000, and was purchased by Christopher Gomez and apparently given to one Rosita Gonzalez. The inscription translates to ‘Fortune favours the bold.’ Bird drives out to the cabin.

Pete walks in on PJ and Ali, shirtlessly making out. In this week’s comic segment, he politely backs away and says he’ll leave them to it. Ali is mortified and sends PJ packing.

Police Gomez won’t storm the cabin until the SWAT team arrives. He and his one wordless henchman wait till the SWAT guys are 5 minutes away (why not wait the 5 more minutes?) and go in. He makes Jane promise to stay by the car, but of course she doesn’t. A shootout happens, wherein Gus shoots Gomez in his bulletproof vest. Jane  runs up and starts trying to talk to Gus through the door. He says he doesn’t have Lake and he didn’t do anything. Before he can say any more, the SWAT team arrives and one of them shoots Gus in the middle of his forehead. Bye Gus.

Lake is not in the cabin. Jane is having a full-on breakdown when Bird runs up. They  hear a sound from the trunk of Gus’s car, which is parked at a distance away. Lake is inside. She wants to go home.

Back in Jane’s kitchen, Ali and Pete are about to share a bagel and really talk about shit when Pete gets a call from Jane that Lake has been found, yippee!

Jane and Lake are cuddling, colouring and singing at the police station while Gomez gets his wound attended-to. Lake and Bird meet. Jane thanks Bird for everything he did, and especially for believing her. Bird says goodbye, and tells Gomez he’s coming back to work. He ain’t done yet.

Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto novelist and sometime TV show recapper. Her most recent book is a suburban comedy of manners, The Oakdale Dinner Club. Coming in June 2018: The Showrunner, a darkly humourous, suspenseful Hollywood-noir novel about female ambition inside the TV biz. Here is its book trailer:

Ten Days in the Valley Recap – Day 7

IMG_0455Jane begins Day 7 by waking up, on John Bird’s couch, from a dream about the casita raid. Bird has asked Jacob to keep her there because she gets into trouble when she goes out on her own, but after taking one bite of the omelette Jacob cooked for her, she’s off.

At the police station, Bird asks Buddy to try to identify the grey SUV in the murky gas station security video without saying why he wants the car tracked down. Police Gomez calls Bird in, tells him about the discovery of Quinn’s body the night before and says he feels like Bird is keeping secrets from him. He’s right.

Tom & Ali are at a doctor’s office for a progesterone shot appointment when Ali confronts him about having slept with Jane 9 years ago. Tom swears his fling with Jane was meaningless. He’s contrite about never having told her, and admits it was Jane’s idea to keep their fling a secret. Ali storms out of the clinic without getting the shot.

Jane drives to the studio. When the gate guard won’t admit her, she sweet-talks her way in by saying she is just there to pick up some files, and by promising to meet with the guard’s son to discuss a Zombie Detective spec script (heh) he wrote.

Inside, she grabs Matt and tells him that the real-life Red took Lake. Matt still thinks this is an insane theory because the script for the casita raid story has “gone wide” – nothing in it is secret anymore, so why would Red care if the episode shot and aired? Unless they’ve missed something about how it really went down.

Matt and Jane go onto the casita set, which is conveniently fully set up for the scene, but empty of people. They try to walk through the raid as it would have happened, and as they do, we see the raid fully dramatized. We’re shown the shootings of Victim 1: a female prostitute, and Victims 2 & 3: male gangsters. Bird drops in and uses his police knowledge to guide their re-enactment. Some mild humour ensues when he shuts down their assumptions on how to block the scene (especially Matt’s). No, the cops wouldn’t have entered that way, they would come in this way, and so on. We also see a dramatization of Quinn being blinded and deafened by the flashbang thrown by Red.  Bird points out that a flashbang is not a defensive weapon but an offensive one that stuns everyone in close range, so why would the cops use it? Matt goes outside to stall the cast and crew and keep them from entering the soundstage for a few more minutes. That’s when Jane and Bird realize that the raid was a cover for the assassination (two shots to the body, one to the head) of Victim #1, the prostitute.

Ali goes to Jane’s house and finds Pete there, drinking. He’s pissed that he found out from Tom that Lake called, Jane didn’t even tell him. He says Casey kidnapped Lake for love, but Lake’s second abduction should be blamed solely on Jane, because she is a lying liar who lies. Ali takes his booze away and gets him talking about how he met Jane, and more importantly, when. Ali twigs at last to the fact that Lake was conceived before Jane met Pete, and is Tom’s child. Away from Pete, she calls Jane and reams her out about this much bigger secret and lie. Jane says she didn’t know until she saw the blood work after the car accident earlier that year (but come on, now – parents are told their child’s blood type at birth, and Jane would obviously count back from her due date as soon as she learned it). Ali is furious, and says she will tell Pete and Tom the truth. But she chickens out when she goes back to a maudlin Pete (sidenote: how irritating is the Pete character and the actor who plays him? Very irritating) and he says that Lake is the only thing in his entire life that he hasn’t bailed on.

Tom meets with Commander Gomez, in a bid to get some details about the case that he can use to write his story (the story he was supposed to submit on Day 6). Gomez doesn’t want any info going out in the media that might jeopardize Lake, and he is right pissed when Tom mentions Lake’s phone call, seeing as Bird didn’t tell him about it.

Bird and Jane head to the coroner’s office to find out why Victim #1’s file is mysteriously blank as to her identity. On the way, Jane compliments Bird’s eye for detail, and says she could use him in the writers’ room. She also suggests he cook his famous Memphis ribs for her and Lake when all this is over. Is now really the time for flirting, Jane? Even if Bird did say yesterday how alike they are, with the workaholism and all.

The coroner’s office person is a friendly, pierced-nose, punk-hairstyled alternative type who dated Buddy once and would like to break his heart, so can Bird have him call her again? She looks up Victim #1’s file on her old-style computer and finds that she was ID’d (and her body claimed) after she died, but her identifying details have been erased. Ruh-roh.

Jane is waiting outside for Bird when Gus finally returns her many phone calls and messages. He wants to meet, but tells her to ditch Bird, because she can’t trust ANYONE.

That evening, on a hill road, she meets Gus, who is driving a bright blue sports car (not a grey SUV), though he is wearing a black leather jacket and jeans, just like the guy who was driving Lake around! They embrace. He claims not to have heard about Quinn’s death, but when Jane asks him who the dead prostitute was, he tells her to stop talking, stop her show, and if she wants Lake back, to stop digging. When Bird emerges from the shadows, unarmed, to talk, Gus shoots out Jane’s tires so they can’t follow him, and takes off. Not sure why Bird doesn’t call in the plate number so they can track him down though. Maybe he did.

Meanwhile, the dynamic duo of Bilson and Buddy have found the grey SUV. It’s been rolled down a hill and abandoned, it is definitely a police vehicle, and the person who signed it out a week ago was, of course, Gus! Who we see stopping at a convenience store to buy snacks, bananas, and a childrens’ tape recorder/player toy. Hmm.

Bird returns to the police station. Buddy & Bilson avoid his eye, because Gomez made them spill about the grey SUV and how come Bird didn’t keep them in the loop anyway? Gomez gives Bird shit and takes him off the case. Through clenched teeth, Gomez claims Gus was the head of the dirty crew, and the police have been building a case against him, which would have been resolved without Lake going missing if  Bird hadn’t interfered. Bird doesn’t seem to believe that Gus is Red, and he doesn’t want to be reassigned. He’d rather hand in his gun and badge, and walk out, after taking from Gomez’s desk a wrapped roll of candies that, according to my vast knowledge of North American food culture, are called Rockets in Canada, and Smarties in the U.S.

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I’m unspoiled on this show – I haven’t yet seen the remaining three episodes currently available in Canada on CraveTV. But my bet is that this will turn out to be Chekhov’s candy, when Bird later finds a discarded wrapper among the evidence from the casita raid. Because I think Gomez was there, and the prostitute was killed to protect his brother the AG. Police Gomez may even be Red.

Jane comes home to find Ali in the house, and Pete passed out on Lake’s bedroom floor.  Jane tells Ali that (she thinks) Gus took Lake but she has to believe he won’t hurt her. Ali says she did not tell Pete the truth about Lake’s parentage, but not because she wanted to spare Jane. Jane plaintively asks Ali to stay, because she can’t do this without her, though she seemed perfectly fine without her that whole day, what with the flirting and joking. Ali just shakes her head and leaves.

Jane helps Pete get onto Lake’s bed. They are both afraid of tomorrow. They spoon and try to sleep.

Kim Moritsugu is a Toronto novelist and sometime TV show recapper. Her most recent book is a suburban comedy of manners, The Oakdale Dinner Club. Coming in June 2018: The Showrunner, a darkly humourous, suspenseful Hollywood-noir novel about female ambition inside the TV biz. Here is its book trailer: