‘Suits’ Season 9 Finds the Firm Under Threat While Crushes Finally Connect 

Suits” is the latest, long-running series delivering its final season after momentous changes and character exits. A legal drama driven by snappy writing and energetic performances, it has thrived on cliffhangers where much is put at stake and we truly care about the characters. Season nine begins after a showdown that resulted in one major character sacrificing himself for the good of the firm, and now everyone else is left to deal with the fallout. Impressively enough this is a series that even after nearly a decade, has not lost sight of what makes it tick so well.

It’s the morning after all the chaos that saw Robert (Wendell Pierce) confess to Samantha (Katherine Heigl) that he purposefully sent her attacker to jail and certain death, then made a maneuver that saved the job of Harvey (Gabriel Macht) at the firm, but resulted in himself being disbarred. Not only did Harvey keep his job, he finally locked lips with Donna (Sarah Rafferty). The two awaken in Donna’s bed, but they also have to keep things hush for now since the firm itself is under fire. Louis (Rick Hoffman) is facing pressure to remove Robert’s name from the firm’s heading and clients are starting to bail. A top client like Thomas (Sasha Roiz) even fires Alex (Dulé Hill) after feeling deceived. Everyone scrambles to try and save the client list, especially when a snake like Eric (Jeffrey Nordling) starts going on the prowl names away to his side. He makes Harvey and Samantha an offer, he’ll back off if he can get a certain number of the firm’s clients. Louis even calls up Harvard to beg for students to consider coming over. Yet this all soon becomes of the least of their problems when Faye Richardson (Denise Crosby) arrives, announcing that the New York Bar Association has put her in charge of Zane Specter Litt Wheeler Williams.

Inevitably the start of a new season means playing catch up with all the loose ends from its predecessor. USA has released the first two episodes of season 9 for review and they offer everything fans of this show find delicious about it. There’s no physical violence or grand conspiracies. Instead it’s all suspense built through law school dialogue about preserving client portfolios, blocking rival firms and keeping sexual tension at bay. The last two seasons have been the most transitional for this show, particularly after its two original leads departed at the end of season seven. You may recall that Meghan Markle became a royal via wedding to Prince Harry. Much of the plotting has hence focused on Louis as the head of ZSPLWW, and on the previously subtle sparks between Harvey and Donna. It makes complete sense that finally, for this final lap around the track these two get together. Creator Aaron Korsh doesn’t miss a beat in giving fans the kind of funny, corny moments “Suits” knows how to balance with its legal thrills. Louis comes knocking on Donna’s door and is oblivious to what’s happened, thinking her and Harvey have been up all night plotting on how to save the firm. There must of course be broken hearts, in this case Samantha and Thomas, who respectively have had passionate moments with Harvey and Donna. This is mature melodrama however and Donna lets Thomas down easy over the phone, reminding him of just how great of a guy he is. He’s so great he’ll stay with the firm, even taking Harvey on as his lawyer (while refusing to work again with Alex). Samantha also puts her feelings aside, because the firm comes first. She does get her moment to let it all by boxing with Harvey at the gym. There’s something rather pleasant about this old-fashioned, network-style TV writing.

What begins as a race to keep clients soon turns into a battle of wills for the firm itself. Faye Richardson, gamely played by Denise Crosby, is the complicated villain every good story needs to bring it up to another level. She’s the ultimate threat to the office, essentially taking control. She hovers over staff meetings, has a habit of appearing out of dark corridors just as Louis schemes to find a loophole to get rid of her. Eventually he will dig his own trap, and we’re not even half-way into the season. The writing remains quick and direct, which is essential in a show so dependent on lawyer talk. Most of the season premiere is focused on whether Robert’s name show go or not, which has a powerful dramatic idea behind it when given careful consideration.

It is likely that what will truly keep longtime fans devoted to this season is the new relationship between Donna and Harvey. With just 10 episodes left to go before “Suits” leaves the courtroom, it’s the perfect narrative treat. In the world of this show, justice may be blind at times, but it has a heart as well.

Suits” season nine premieres July 17 and airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on USA.