Ross and Rachel and… Claire?

For those of you who were alive during the late nineties, or have access to a television which airs sitcoms, or have access to the Internet, the words Ross and Rachel will instantly trigger the memory of an on-and-off meant to be couple from the insanely famous sitcom which made five actors insanely famous, and also starred Matthew Perry. Then, four years ago, the words Ross and Rachel were once again thrown across American television, but in somewhat more subtle tones. Maybe.

The copycat romance was featured in USA Network’s instant crowd-puller, Suits, which took the lead from John Grisham in delivering legal fiction to the masses, causing every second person to think that they know more about the law than they actually do. Suits saw some excellent initial writing and production and the first season of the legal drama series put the TV show on the map.

On the twelfth of August, four days ago (my time), Suits released yet another episode. This post, for those who may not have yet guessed, is a review of that episode, assuming people want to read the review of that episode at all. Why specifically this episode, you may ask? Well, believe it or not, even after years of having my expectations turned down by the show, I had my hopes raised for what promised to be a very thrilling episode; needless to say, the tone that this review sets isn’t as positive as I’d hope.

Imagine a little box, if you will, under the possession of the producers of Suits. That box contains a single piece of paper, and on that piece of paper is a single line of text. That box is accessed whenever the show runs out of a substantial plot, the line is read, inspiration is derived, and the box is forgotten about once more. I do not know what exactly that piece of paper says, but I suppose it is something to the effect of: “Mike Ross never went to law school”.

This amusing plot element which formed the basis of the show in the first place has become little more than a toy with which the show’s creators decide to occasionally have fun. Every once in a while, the creators remember that Mike is not supposed to have gone to law school, and they bring up this convenient ghost from Mike’s past just to remind us that Patrick J. Adams has problems in his life too. Of course, before the episode even starts we know that Mike is going to get off somehow (face it, if they can bring him back after changing his job, they can do anything to keep him at Pearson Specter Litt), but it’s cute that the producers think that they have us on edge once again.

The last episode, called something to the effect of “My fault”, missed its mark for the obvious reason that it once again dumped onto a saturated audience the sob story of Mike’s lack of legal education. Coupled with the unbearable melodrama of Rachel Zane and the needless upbringing of events of Mike’s past, the episode was earmarked for failure before it even hit the TV screens (or, more commonly, the Internet). Almost as though to remind us that we were still watching a show that was not supposed to be a bad rip-off of Boston Legal, the show took us back four seasons and forced us to see more of Meghan Markle’s unnecessary drama.

The saving grace of season five, and frankly the entire show, came to the rescue once more. The cutthroat competition between Louis and Harvey, which had taken a nasty, personal turn in the previous episode, followed through and showed that there was something in the show still worthwhile after all. The well placed interventions by Donna and Jessica beautifully highlighted the seriousness of the feud between the two ace lawyers, and we got to see some more great acting on the parts of Gabriel Macht and Rick Hoffman.

What really got my goat in the last episode of Suits, though, wasn’t the cheap reusing of an exhausted plot, but the side story which centred around Rachel Zane holding the reins in her beloved fiance’s stead. The random introduction of Claire into the story seemed to serve only one purpose; to show us that Rachel really and so dearly loves Mike, a reminder which was not needed in the first place, considering she has been covering for him since season… never mind.

The annoying habit that Suits has of going in loops was seen clearly in the last episode where even the very interesting story involving Harvey started to get monotonous, with Harvey’s therapist included in the episode just to remind us that the poor dear is seeking help. The little game of cat and mouse taking place between Rachel and Claire seemed to hint at the fact that when you place two parts of a love triangle in one room, the deal on the table doesn’t mean anything.

Oh, and there was cake. And Troian Bellisario. I’ll let you decide which is better.

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Why Kit Harrington losing his job isn’t as amusing as it sounds

Game of Thrones has finally done it.

The death of the much-loved character Jon Snow, portrayed by the shaggy Kit Harrington, was imminent to all those who had been following the show for the past few episodes. It therefore came as a great shock when, on Sunday, Game of Thrones decided to do the Lord Commander of the Night’s watch in, seeing as how GoT is notorious for doing the unexpected. This is, of course, completely contradictory to the plot of the books, where Jon Snow is not confirmed dead, but is rushing into Battle against the Boltons.

Throughout season five, Game of Thrones has been straying from the plot of the books, which had caused even the most avid book readers, who until now were smug about being in on the story, to be as in the dark as the show-watchers. Other than changing minor details about characters’ lives, the show held true to the plot in earlier books and the story seemed to progress logically. Then season five began and, as the phrase so eloquently puts it, “all shit hit the fan”.

Personally, I loved the Game of Thrones show series (notice the past tense), because of its shock value, great writing, honest acting and pretty well done cinematography. The show didn’t fail to impress every year, and even at the beginning of every season I would wait for the ninth episode, which in Game of Thrones history has shown to be the heart-stopper. Season five kicked off well enough, showing the same level of direction and acting skill that GoT is known for, and I believe it reached its peak with the episode High Sparrow, which had the perfect shock value and skill balance.

However, even someone as blind as Maester Aemon can tell, the show has been going steeply downhill ever since then. In an attempt to thoroughly shock the book readers as well as the show watchers, GoT has succumbed to reducing their plot to include ONLY the shock value, relying upon the gullibility of the viewers to propel the series forward. Of course, there will be the devoted fan criticizing this post for being unappreciative of the show, but you can’t please everyone.

One of the greatest joys of watching Game of Thrones was watching the characters react to the situations thrown at them in the controlled amounts that beget the best type of reactions. With season five, however, it became clear that none of that skill of acting would be seen because the show had decided to pull all the stops with regards to the plot, thereby forcing the characters to react to too much information at once, and causing the scope of acting to go steeply downhill. But the acting isn’t even the worst part.

In a failed attempt to allow the shock value of the show as the highlight, GoT clearly ignored the finer points of the series, like developing the show for it to be carried forward. The overuse of plot in the last few episodes guarantees that the show will have plenty to dish out in season six, but also that none of it will be at all substantial, because all that the show is aiming to do now is shock their viewers. What will be next? The death of Arya Stark, perhaps? Or the murder of Tyrion Lannister? Whereas twists such as these would have made my insides quake in the earlier seasons, where the story progressed in a fashion which made for maximum entertainment, now they are just an annoyance.

What makes a great story? Is it just the unexpected happening one after the other? Going by the logic being followed by Game of Thrones, it certainly seems so. It’s true that without an element of surprise, plots start to fall apart, but that hold true when the shock is an element, and not the entire foundation of the series. Game of Thrones used to be a fast paced rush of emotions, leading from romance and erotica through the shock of murder to the pain of death. Now, however, the plot has completely lost its balance, and the delicacy of a developing story has been thrown to the wind.

The books manage to preserve this delicate balance, mainly because Martin refuses to take to senseless butchery (despite what many believe) in the name of entertainment. So what is up with the writers of the show? Recently, friends of mine had a discussion about the show and one of them said that the show has become so ridiculous and so uni-directional in its approach that even the unexpected has become expected. I rebuffed him at that time, saying that the show’s unexpected plot twists were the only thing which made the show worthwhile. Clearly, I was wrong.

I was extremely certain of the death of Jon Snow after episode eight of the show, Hardhome, but not because it somehow fit into the plot or because it gave the story some weight or balance. I knew that Jon Snow would die because I could see that the show had resorted to cheap writing, where killing off characters and needless cases of rape are the only way emotions can be arisen. I knew that Jon Snow would soon suffer because that was the only way the show could keep the shock value going, seeing how their creativity now sits at the bottom of a pile of rotting oysters which Arya Stark cannot sell.

I therefore HOPED to be blown off my feet in the season finale, to see Jon Snow live through another season, but I was, of course, disappointed. It would seem that unless the show writers are empowered with the ability to kill of characters as they please, they aren’t able to write a half decent episode. I have half a mind to stop watching the show, because the level to which the acting and screenplay has fallen seems irredeemable, but I like to hold onto the hope that after season 5, the people pulling the strings will realise the grave errors of production that they have committed, and pick up their game where they crushed it beneath the feet of giants from Beyond the Wall.

It’s a shame to see such a promising series, inspired by the brilliance of Tolkien, go to the direwolves this way. The show was undoubtedly one of my favourites, and it will be a sorry thing to watch it go down the drain. I therefore am seriously contemplating putting an end to this misery, and leaving the show behind with whatever good memories of it I have left.

Comments are welcome.