It took me 1.5 viewings of “Endgame” in order to figure out how the B story with Louis and Harold was anything other than something to shove between fantastic dramatic moments in the A story. That’s not good. I watched the episode on the first viewing, loving every minute of the Hessington trial and all of its implications, but constantly asking myself “why?” when the Litt/Gunderson scenes came up. The puzzle pieces just didn’t quite fit together as seamlessly as they normally do, but luckily, Rick Hoffman threw an extra dash of his usual awesomesauce into his work and made it bearable. It was enjoyable, even. Not to mention, Max Topplin held his own, which is really saying something when you’re up against a talent like Hoffman’s.
As it turns out (I think), the Louis/Harold story was a way to highlight the problems that Harvey was facing with Cameron Dennis. This whole Hessington trial was, at its core, a way for Dennis to lash out at his perceived failure in Harvey. Their “blood feud,” as Ava Hessington called it, was exactly what was happening in the B story but on a much larger scale. Much like Louis was eventually forced to see reason and stop his attack on Harold, Cameron stopped going for Harvey’s jugular and remembered what was most important: putting bad guys behind bars. Of course, none of this answers the giant “WHY???” that I wrote after Harold confronted Mike…Why did Louis even TELL Harold what Mike’s role in his firing was? Was there any point to that whatsoever? I don’t get it. But alas, I guess I can’t get everything.
What I DO get is how utterly brilliant everyone involved in the A story continues to be. I’m never going to be able to watch another courtroom scene on another show without comparing it to the scenes in “Endgame.” These actors gave us a clinic on how courtroom dramas should be played. And let’s forget the way that Gary Cole and Gabriel Macht dominated the Hessington trial as opposing counsel for a moment. The absolute best part was not how the actors at the forefront of the scenes played their parts but how engaging the background characters were. Gina Torres did nothing more than turn her head and gasp a little bit when Jessica Pearson realized that Cameron Dennis had gone in for the kill, but she did it in such a way that I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Darby’s reaction was also a thing of beauty, which of course we owe to the talent of Conleth Hill. Ah, Lord Varys, I felt for you in this episode…
…but that leaves one more person in the background. One more person stole every scene she was in, even when she was barely in it: Sarah Rafferty. I swear she gets better every week. I just wanted to jump into my tv and hug Donna, probably cry a bit with her. Of course, Donna Paulsen does not cry. No. She just looks heartbroken and defeated to the point where she makes YOU cry FOR her. And then she snarks all over the cause of her heartbreak, right up until the point where he’s carried off in handcuffs and she can drop the armor again. With only two episodes left before the mid-season break, I can’t wait to see what else Donna has in store for us. This season, Donna has gone down a path of immense character growth, and Rafferty has risen to every challenge necessary to actually make that development meaningful and believable.
- Despite some of my discomfort with the B plot, I loved seeing Rachel act as a conscience for Louis.
- Mike Ross gets the quote of the night, which is what inspired my photo choice for my weekly ramblings. “You got me. Look, I’m not — I’m not a lawyer. Between you and me, I’m a complete fraud.” I snorted. It was unladylike.
- Every bit of dialogue between Harvey and Jessica was perfect. This is the kind of conflict resolution that I’ve been searching for all season. Harvey and Mike may not have gotten a real chance to confront their issues, but our beloved firm’s partners certainly did. It didn’t even happen on the roof.
- Speaking of Jessica and dialogue: “I’m thinking I’d like to rip your face off.” Please don’t. I’ve seen Gina Torres in scary mode before, and it made me unable to watch Firefly for years because her character on Angel terrified me so much. Please don’t scare me away again, Gina. PLEASE.
- Michelle Fairley will be missed if this is the last we see of Ava Hessington. The way Ava physically reacted when she thought she was going to have to suffer 8 years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit could easily have gone into the land of overacting, but it didn’t. Quite the contrary.
- Momma Stark slapped Lord Varys. Enough said.
- A murder trial shouldn’t be such a big win-win for both the defense and the prosecution like that. It was almost too easy. No, actually, take out the almost. It was too easy. I even wrote a note about “shiny happy lawyers holding hands” at the end there. I don’t ever want to have such a thought again.