Suits

IMDB: Suits

Seasons Type Genres
7- Both Comedy/Drama
Scene Count
Pilot Screenplay
110 110

Main Characters 

Harvey Specter

Limp-flat-tie-with-too-big-knot.jpgHarvey

42, with Clooney looks.

Mike Ross

suits-4Mike

(Mets hat, short-hair, glasses, goatee) (He was in disguise.)
Later described (long hair, no glasses and no goatee)

Jessica Pearson

Characters_jessica_pearson_usa_network_gallery_01Jessica

(50’s distinguished)

Rachel Zane

137635.jpgRachel

An attractive paralegal.

Louis Litt

0cb5c4aaa094a7b10b6f825b7529b579.jpgLouis

33, slick, arrogant

Donna Paulsen

210557.max-620x600Donna

She’s in her 30’s, good looking and would take a bullet for Harvey.

Trevor

photoTrevor

Clean cut, 22, suit and tie.

Character Differences

Jessica’s original name was Katherine.

Jessica  had a mentor named Phillip. Phillip and Jessica discussed putting faith into Harvey. Ultimately, Phillip was cut entirely, but the plot line remained with Jessica using her own judgment on Harvey.

Here is the cut scene originally in the screenplay:

Mike was originally a stereotypical long hair, stoner.
Rachel’s original name was Rachel Lane.
Louis originally had a wife. This is only used as a joke in the pilot, but Louis not having a wife has lead to many story lines.

ACT BREAKDOWN

Notes:

The first two acts are structured differently but acts 3-5 are structured the same.

Excel Breakdown Pilot Screenplay
Suits Screenplay Breakdown Suits
SCREENPLAY PILOT

Since Mike and Harvey are the main characters, I will focus my breakdown on them.

Act 1


Act 1 introduces most of the major and minor characters and the problems they may be dealing with.

Structure

The first act is structured differently in the pilot and screenplay.

The pilot introduces Harvey first and then Mike before showing the title credit. I count this is as Act 1 because there are only four acts after.

The Screenplay introduces Mike and then Harvey.

Scenes of Harvey playing poker and Louis interacting with Jessica are combined to save time and because they were redundant.

Jessica’s scene with her mentor is cut.

Harvey

Important Plot Points

Harvey beats men in poker.
Harvey take cares of a disgruntled client.
Harvey and Jessica celebrate and after initially being rejected, Harvey takes home the waitress.
Harvey is promoted to senior partner.

Breakdown

The whole first act sets up Harvey as the best closer in new york in both the court and the bedroom. Poker, seducing a waitress and closing a client are all used to show Harvey is extremely effective at what he does: closing.

Harvey is also promoted to senior partner which starts his new arc that leads into the second act.

Mike

Important Plot Points

Mike takes the Lsats and gets away after almost being caught.
Mike’s Grandmother is in a nursing home and Mike needs $25,000 to keep her there.
Mike accepts Trevor’s offer to do a drug deal.

Breakdown

In the first act Mike is set up as a stoner who is going no where in life, but has the responsibility to take care of  his Grandmother who had taken care of him when his parents died.

In the screenplay, Mike’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s which makes it more emotional for Mike. However this is dropped in the pilot and Mike’s grandmother is simply getting old. Mike’s motivation is to not let her down after she sacrificed so much for him. Mike needs to raise 25,000 in order to keep his grandmother in the nursing home, so he takes Trevor’s offer to do a drug deal.

Other Important Character Introductions

Louis Litt

Louis is introduced as a respectable lawyer in clear competition with Harvey, but not trusted enough by Jessica. Harvey is a bully to Louis.

It is important to note that Louis is in charge of all associates, giving Mike the opportunity to interact with both Louis and Harvey.

Jessica Pearson

Jessica is introduced as a strong-willed managing partner. With the mentor story line dropped, Jessica’s decisions are her own and she is wrestling with the fact to trust Harvey with Senior Partner.

Trevor

Trevor is introduced as Mike’s childhood best friend who has found success drug dealing, but tells his girlfriend he is a programmer. Trevor is responsible for Mike’s misfortunes as his schemes end in Mike getting in serious trouble.

Grandma

Grandma raised Mike as her own after his parents died when he was a kid. Mike is very close with his grandmother and wants her to have the best care, because she gave him the best care.

Act 1 ending:

Screenplay:
Trevor realizes Mike might be set up, but is caught by the drug dealers and forced to wait until the deal is done.

Pilot:
Mike gets away at the LSATS.

Best Scene: Harvey giving it to Gerald Tate.

This scene demonstrates Harvey’s ability to handle clients and also works in his poker skills of bluffing.

Script Notes:

Even experienced screenwriters fall prey to using pouring water to break up dialogue. In the Gerald/Harvey scene, Harvey pours and offers Gerald a glass of water.

Mike doesn’t have a ridiculous disguise at the LSAT test.

The plot point of selling the math test to dean’s daughter is cut from the scene with Trevor so it can be revealed later with Harvey.

The plot point of Dockery as a new client is cut from the bar scene with Jessica.

In the screenplay the waitress doesn’t reject Harvey.

Act 2

Act 2 brings together our two main characters. 
Act 2 gives both characters a high point and they achieve their goals. 

Structure

Louis’s story line with Gerald Tate is cut.
One interview candidate scene is cut.


Harvey

Important Plot Points

Harvey holds interviews to find his associate.
Harvey hires Mike.

Breakdown

After meeting Mike, Harvey sees himself in Mike and decides to hire him.

It is important to put into context that Harvey doesn’t have kids and isn’t married. Mike is like a son to Harvey, someone he can mentor.

This isn’t clear on the surface, but considering Harvey breaks the law, something he stresses not to do in later cases, it is important to him to have someone to mentor.

Mike

Important Plot Points

Mike escapes the drug deal set up.
Mike meets Harvey.
Mike is hired by Harvey.
Mike goes to Harvard to learn about the school.
Mike agrees to quit weed and stop hanging out with Trevor.

Breakdown

Mike barely escapes another one of Trevor’s schemes and has a chance at meeting Harvey.
Not only does Mike get both the money for his grandmother through the signing bonus, but he also gets a chance at his dream job.

It is important to note the link between Mike’s background with law and his dream of being a lawyer. It makes sense that Mike would stumble onto this opportunity and be able to impress a Harvard lawyer with his knowledge of the law.

To put it into a different context, say Mike’s dream job was an accountant. He meets Harvey and show’s him how he can help on the financial side of things. Not the most compact storyline, but something that could be done.

Mike also never had a father figure, something Harvey could easily grow into as a mentor.

End of Act 2:

Pilot:
Mike goes to Harvard to learn about the school.
Screenplay:
Mike goes to Harvard to learn about the school.

Best scene: Harvey and Mike meeting.

It’s a well written scene and showcases Mike’s talent to Harvey, while giving Harvey hope he has found another him.

Script Notes:

Louis’s storyline with Gerald Tate is never mentioned after this scene. Obviously a set up for future episodes, but seems random just thrown in there. A better conclusion would have been a scene near the end of act 5 with Louis showing Gerald Tate how he plans on winning him over or something along those lines.

There is implied sexual tension between Jenny and Mike in the pilot.
In the screenplay, Jenny flat out asks Mike if he wonders what would have happened if they met first.

Act 3

Act 3 sets the procedural case in motion. 
Most of the main characters have been introduced and now it is time to meet the minor, one episode, characters and the rest of the cast.

Structure

Harvey 

Important Plot Points

Harvey gets his promotion taken away because Gerald Tate fired the firm.
Harvey gets the idea from Mike to play hardball with Jessica.
Harvey gives Mike a pro bono case to work on.

Breakdown

The Harvey and Jessica dynamic has more context in the screenplay. Although the pro bono is introduced as a case of the week, in the screenplay it is actually a test by Jessica to see if she can trust Harvey.  Jessica wants Harvey to show some compassion by working on a pro bono case himself as her mentor advised her to do.

Mike

Important Plot Points

Mike meets Rachel.
Mike works on the case and gets emotionally attached to the client.
Mike starts learning the ins and outs of law.
Mike meets Louis and becomes afraid after Louis fires an associate for screwing up a case.
Trevor shows up at mikes apartment looking for the briefcase.

Breakdown

Mike is introduced to a new world and starts his first case. Mike learns who to trust and who not to.

Rachel is introduced as a potential love interest and Mike uses his photographic memory to impress her and set himself apart from the other associates.

Mike still has the weed case and relies on it as a backup in case things don’t work out.

Character Introductions

Rachel Zane:

Rachel is introduced as an ambitious paralegal who demands respect and is not impressed with the average Harvard lawyer.

Best scene: Mike impressing Rachel using his memory.

Mike uses his memory to stand out to Rachel.

End of act 3:

Pilot:
Trevor shows up looking for the weed case.
Screenplay:
Trevor shows up looking for the weed case.

Script Notes:

Mike rides a bike to work instead of taking the subway.

A lot of good banter added in the Pilot, probably due to the cast chemistry. Sometimes your dialogue will be changed to suit the actors, so it’s not something to stress over.

The case originally focused on proving Nancy wasn’t performing up to standards. But this was cut and instead the case takes a wider net and uses Mike and Rachel to come up with something useful.

Act 4

Act 4 explores the character relationships and focuses on the procedural case.

Structure

Scenes were shifted around in this act to have more flow and a corny montage of “research” was cut from Rachel and Mike.

End of the act changed.

Harvey

Important Plot Pints

Harvey meets with an investigator.
Harvey charms a potential client and shows he has connections.
Harvey shows Mike how to work a court room.
Jessica is angry at Harvey for not personally handling the pro bono case.

Breakdown

Harvey’s investigator is introduced as what I can only assume as a potential love interest based on the interaction. (Unfortunately, she returned only once in the series and just recently mentioned in a episode of Season 6)

Harvey is again showing how effective he is at his job with a new client.

As mentioned before, the context of Jessica’s anger about the pro bono is clearer in the screenplay because of her frequent discussions with her mentor about trusting Harvey. The fact he didn’t do it himself shows Jessica he doesn’t have compassion for their clients.

Mike

Important Plot Points

Mike begins a working relationship with Rachel.
Mike sees what it’s like in court.
Mike convinces another witness to testify using empathy.

Breakdown

Mike is starting to get his bearings as a lawyer. He sees what court is like, he sees what researching for a case is like and he has to convince a witness to testify himself.

Mike showcases both his photographic memory in going through all the files and his ability to sympathize with people when he convinces the witness to testify.

End of act 4:

Screenplay: 
Mike finds his apartment ransacked.

Pilot: 
Mike finds his apartment ransacked and calls Trevor.

Best scene:

Suits scene.

The suit scene is short and to the point and emphasizes Mike’s hesitant transition to his new job.

The court scene was too conflict free and a little too fictional with the dialogue from the judge.

Script Notes:

Again Harvey pours water, this time for Dockery. One of his traits must have been offering water to clients to close deals.

Nothing says hard work like a montage.

The court scene is not any better on paper.

In the screenplay, Rachel helps Mike go through the files.
In the pilot, Mike goes through the files by himself.

Act 5

In Act 5, shit hits the fan and Mike finds out what it’s like to fail. However he also finds what its like to have support.

Structure

In the screenplay, Jessica gives Harvey a criminal case setting up the next episode.  This is cut from the Pilot. Mike and Harvey walk off after winning their settlement and Harvey gives Mike a folder with their next case.

Harvey

Important Plot Points

Harvey leads the deposition with Joanne.
Harvey tells Mike to fix the problem.
Harvey lectures Mike about quitting when things get tough.
Harvey figures out the case after telling Louis to leave Mike alone.
Harvey convinces Joanne to tell him the truth.

Breakdown

The final act highlights the mentor/men-tee relationship. Mistakes are going to be made but they are there to learn from. Harvey tells Mike to fix his mistake, but instead Mike quits.

Harvey tells Mike what he needs to here about quitting and whether or not he’s as smart as he think he is.

Harvey lets Mike do the settling negotiations to give him a taste of success.

Mike

Important Plot Points:

Mike hits multiple conflict points in the final act:

First he has to deal with Trevor trashing his apartment.
Then taking a drug test while carrying weed.
Then screwing up the deposition.
Then he fails to fix the situation.
Mike decides to stay at the law firm after promising his Grandma to reach his potential.

Breakdown

Mikes natural reaction is to give up. However both Harvey and his grandmother convince him to keep going.

Mike also gets even with Trevor by taking his suits and showing Jenny the weed.

It is important to note that Mike doesn’t miraculously fix the problem, overreaching his character. The focus of Mike is on whether or not he’s ready for this new challenge and whether or not he can give up his past. As we are all familiar with, change is hard and getting rid of bad habits is even harder.

Harvey fixes the problem as any mentor would and encourages their protege to never give up even in bad situations, a theme we see play throughout the series.

End of Act 5:

Pilot: Harvey and Mike walk out after winning their case.
Screenplay: Harvey presents Mike with a criminal case given to him by Jessica.

Best scenes:
Harvey lectures Mike about quitting.

Mike gets even with Trevor.

Script Notes:

Mike quitting is given an extra scene with him leaving his ID badge on the desk to give a more visual sign that he is quitting. This is the type of scenario where adding a scene adds emphasis to what is going on.

Flashbacks of Mike remembering Louis’s cousin from Harvard during his visit are used to showcase Mike’s memory again. This is absent in the screenplay.

In the pilot, Mike opens the weed case in front of Jenny and Trevor. A lot more dramatic than just leaving the weed case unopened in the screenplay.

Hunt calls Harvey on his bluff of knowing the district attorney, but Harvey isn’t bluffing and he goes all in on for the money.

Overall Breakdown

Title

First off it’s important to point out the name change from “A Legal Mind” to “Suits”.

A Legal Mind sounds like Breaking Bad in a court room.

A Legal Mind also brings to mind A Beautiful Mind, the movie based on Mathematician John Nash’s life starring Russel Crowe. People may have confusingly expected something similar with the show, especially given the concept of photographic memory.

Suits is simple and to the point. The look of a suit is as important as the person wearing it. This also takes the focus off Mike and his mind and casts a larger net with the focus on lawyers in general. Although Mike’s photographic memory and knowledge of the law is an interesting hook, it’s the cast of characters and circumstances around them that keep the show popular.

Brief Thoughts on the show

In this section I will give my brief thoughts on the show and whether or not I’ve watched it.

Suits is another gimmick based show turned character-centric. It hooks you with the gimmick of Mike Ross’s photographic memory and keeps you staying with a solid supporting cast of characters. The show goes from episodic to serial with several drawn out storylines instead of the one episode and done. It’s not afraid to experiment, but always reverts to the status quo before branching out again.

The screenplay focuses a lot on the concept of mentor ship.
Harvey mentors Mike.
Jessica mentors Harvey.
Phillip mentors Jessica.

The mentor ship is more subtle in the pilot and Jessica’s mentor Phillip is dropped entirely. The show focuses more on the relationship between Harvey and Mike instead of mentors in general. Jessica still acts as Harvey’s mentor, but instead of questioning her decision to promote him, she is portrayed as someone who stands by their decision after making it.

Jessica’s entire reaction to Harvey’s promotion and him refusing to to do the pro bono case makes more sense in the context of her conversations with Philip because her main conflict with Harvey becoming a leader is his lack of empathy.

The characters introduced give a well balanced cast and the case of the week format is introduced where cases play out the same way each week.

Script Notes:

Dialogue:

Most of the dialogue from main characters was changed slightly and sometimes completely different.
All minor characters dialogue was exactly the same, word for word.

Loose Ends:

Hardman is not introduced and left an unknown for future episodes.

As mentioned before, the Gerald Tate story line with Louis is also left open.

Recurring Bits

Solving the Case: What did you say?

One thing that I’ve noticed in suits is the way the case is solved is by having a character mention a phrase or word in a non related discussion and that sparks the idea to solve the case.

This is used in the pilot when Louis mentions a plant and Harvey immediately realizes that a plant was used in his case.

Mike’s Legal Mind

Mike relies on his memory for working knowledge of the law, but it doesn’t take away from his hard work.

The Trials of a Trial

Each case of the week follows the same formula more or less:

Take first shot:We know they are hiding an employee.
We have them: That employee is going to testify in court.
They outsmart us: They break the employee, and she is actually a plant.
A key term is said in an unrelated conversation: A plant.
We have them: We realize they used a plant.
We win: They agree to terms.

Donna Ex Machina

Donna is Harvey’s secretary and any impossible or elaborate task is taken care of by her off screen. If you have a problem, Donna will solve it, because she’s Donna.

Case of the week

Every week is a different case, but eventually Suits branches out into serial territory with cases that last the entire season.

Movie/ TV References

Tons of references used between the characters especially Harvey and Mike.

Next Show:

The Flash

Thanks for reading. Please let me know anything you would add or take away. Anything you didn’t like or felt was unneeded would also be helpful and preparing the next one. I kind of threw everything I thought would be helpful or entertaining, but can always adjust.

I appreciate the feedback.

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