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Why USA Network’s ‘Suits’ Should Never Have Revealed The Origins Of The Can Opener Ritual

By / 08.22.13

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Let me just preface this before I get to the complaints: This week’s episode of Suits was easily the best of the season, a great return to season-two form for a show that has once again managed to raise the stakes on the best part about the series: The interoffice politics. That said, I’m still frustrated with the movie references, and I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but the show feels like it’s being Cousin Oliver’d by these ham-fisted film references. The problem is not only that they are shoehorned, but that they’re incredibly obvious movie references that the characters (usually Mike) still feel compelled to identify, as though anyone old enough to watch Suits wouldn’t understand the most obvious line from Jerry Maguire (“Show me the money!”) This week’s shoehorned movie reference was from Pulp Fiction, and while I have no problems with Pulp Fiction references, why do they go with the most obvious, “Royal with Cheese”? COME ON. If you’re going to make a Pulp Fiction reference, and then again identify it for the audience, at least go with something a little less obvious, like “Now, you’ve got a corpse in a car, minus a head, in a garage. Take me to it.”

The point I’m trying to make is that Aaron Korsh and Co. should stop pulling movie quotes from the 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time, and cull from The OTHER 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time. I wanna hear Harvey say, “Shut that c*nt’s mouth or I’ll come over there and f**kstart her head!” and I want to organically flow into the action, and I don’t want Harvey to stop and say, “Did you like that? It’s from The Way of the Gun.”

Mini-rant one, over. Now for the second rant.

Again, the episode was great overall, and I absolutely adored the Donna and Harvey origin story, as almost everything involving Donna is great in this show (that woman fills a whole lotta sexy into such a small dress). It was a perfect backstory: Donna has always been “Donna,” and we find out that the one day that Donna didn’t work for Harvey, they slept together (whip cream was involved). However, in bringing Donna with him to his current firm, Harvey had to sacrifice their romantic relationship (because of Donna’s rule not to mix work and romance). The decision to hire her instead of sleep with her again was clearly emotionally fraught for Donna (and briefly, for Harvey), but it did illustrate just how important Donna is to Harvey as his ethical guide without disturbing the mysterious but palpable sexual tension between the two.

It was an incredibly well done origin story that also explained why Harvey is so bent out of shape about Donna sleeping with Steven Hunter. But there was just one problem: The can opener.

People that have followed Suits since the beginning are aware of a fairly esoteric running gag: Donna and Harvey employ a can opener into a pre-trial ritual. It’s a silly ritual, but the best part about it is the fact that the audience has no idea why they use a can opener. Suits is obviously not a profoundly deep show, but whatever: It’s kind of neat that Suits has a “thing.”

At least until the “thing” was explained, which completely stole the mystery behind it. So, Donna agrees to come work for Harvey, writes her own signing bonus check, and they both agree that their one night together will never be spoken of again. Donna says, “We’re going to need a new ritual.” Harvey reaches over into the back pocket of the waitress standing nearby, grabs a can opener, and says, “Maybe something to do with a can opener.” Donna responds, “Harvey, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

And that’s it. That’s why they use a can opener. But we never needed to know that. The best thing about the can-opener ritual is that it remained unexplained. That explanation takes most of the fun out of it. That said, it was still a great goddamn episode, even if Aaron Korsh and his writing staff clearly have a poor understanding of how the law actually works. They do, however, have a decent understanding of how to keep the plot moving without completely burning through it.

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