So you love Harvey, right? He’s the lawyer you want to be. Powerful, suave, always wins and looks great in a suit. You like Mike, too. Incredibly bright, and you wouldn’t mind his photographic memory. You admire Jessica’s fierceness and her unshakeable devotion to Pearson Specter Litt.
You’re still figuring out exactly how Donna does what Donna does, but her ever-accurate intuition and the emotional insight she offers Harvey always leave you floored. Rachel, so hard-working, so driven to achieve both in her career and her relationship with Mike. And even Louis, who at times may seem bumbling, or laden with insecurity, still brings a smile to your face with his quirks and an underlying love for his colleagues and the firm. In a series where the borders of suspense, the law and romance all overlap, it’s the characters who really steal the show.
When the US Marshalls arrived at the firm to arrest Mike, the only surprise was the timing. Everyone knew that Mike’s past would eventually catch up with him, but as an audience, you could be forgiven for having put that to one side while viewing a maelstrom of cunning takeover schemes and last-minute resignations. However, now that Daniel Hardman and Charles Forstman are out of the picture (do they really ever disappear?), the remainder of Season 5 looks to focus on the arrest and trial of one Michael James Ross. This is where Anita Gibbs comes in.
At the time of writing, the most recent episode aired was God’s Green Earth (Season 5, Episode 13). Donna’s father has only narrowly scraped out of a lawsuit after some manoeuvre work from Harvey and Mike. So when Gibbs accosts Rachel on the street and employs some well-rehearsed manipulation, it is easy for you to feel hostile towards the opposing counsel. It’s almost as if Gibbs enjoys toying with the characters we love, dangling a line of hope where there is none. When I say ‘none’, that really doesn’t mean much because, in Suits, there’s always a way. “You take the gun, or you pull out a bigger one. Or, you call their bluff. Or, you do any one of a hundred and forty-six other things.”
If you think about it briefly, from the minute Harvey was introduced to us in the very first episode, he’s always been likeable as a character. It seems like there’s nothing he can’t do, and if you needed someone to fight a legal battle for your life, you’d choose him without a second’s thought. He managed to pick up a waitress at a bar after she point-blank told him “I’m never going out with you”. And it isn’t just what he does, but the style with which he does it. He’s very smooth and always seems in control. In the moments where his emotions bubble over or his temper flares, we admire that too, because it’s only human, and he delivers a sweet sucker-punch. The same goes for Mike. We learned that he was orphaned at a young age, and he falls in with Trevor, who places him in harm’s way in a drug deal set-up. And Rachel, who is so brilliant but can’t seem to control her nerves around LSATs time. These things trigger emotional responses from the audience and foster connections with the characters, to the extent that we begin to like them so much, it doesn’t really matter what happens — we will always be on their side. But what if we looked at things slightly differently?
Shift your paradigm for a moment and consider this: Anita Gibbs goes through school with the dream of being a successful lawyer — perhaps one of the best. She graduates with high marks, excels throughout her top-tier law degree and the LSATs, and works her way up through tireless effort from the mailroom, to a cubicle and finally her own desk and office at the US Attorneys’ Office. She may not come from much, but her desire to achieve, along with a bit of luck has brought her to where she is today.
One day, she receives an anonymous tip that a cross-town lawyer of new renown is a fraud. He never attained a law degree. He didn’t even finish school. Mike Ross, a dropout who has been given a free ride in one of New York’s most prestigious law firms. And Harvey Specter, supposedly “the city’s best closer”? Well, he’s the one who facilitated and then covered up the entire subterfuge. He’s a hot-shot who only thinks about himself and it is time someone brought him to justice. This is what may be going through the mind of Anita Gibbs at the very moment she reads the anonymous letter. And yet we view her as the adversary, the enemy. Why? Because that’s the way five seasons of Suits has positioned us to feel. We have no choice but to consider whether this is a fair approach for us. Can we justify disliking a character just because she has been lined up against our favourites when all she is doing is her job? Have we not been lying this entire time, trying to convince ourselves that Mike’s aptitude at being a lawyer and helping real people in need somehow replaces the requirement for a valid degree?
But, anyway, let’s be honest for a second. I’m a viewer just like you, and we all know which version of the show we prefer. And it’s not the one where Anita Gibbs is any sort of hero. #FreeMikeRoss.
Written by Yakir Havin