SUITS -- "The Arrangement" Episode 301 -- Pictured: (l-r) Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter, Patrick J. Adams as Mike Ross, Rick Hoffman as Louis Litt -- (Photo by: Ian Watson/USA Network)

The legal world at Pearson Specter has undergone a huge shift now that Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick J Adams) have parted ways in Suits. Debashine Thangevelo looks at how the writing team continue to stir the cauldron of conflict, meltdowns, ambitious strategies and volatile relationships.

SUITS is one of those series that probably seduced many young people into studying law. And it’s undeniably powerful, sexy and stupefying at the same time. Heck, even Gerrie Nel would probably envy, as well as salute, Harvey Specter’s (Gabriel Macht) gutsy plays on his big cases.

Season one cemented the big brother/buddy relationship between Harvey and college dropout Mike Ross (Patrick J Adams), who was hired as Harvey’s new associate thanks to his eidetic memory.

They have been a tour-de-force and weathered many legal storms, including those that involved keeping Mike’s secret about not being a Harvard Law graduate. And Louis Litt (Harvey’s rival, played by Rick Hoffman) has tried to shake that skeleton free, to no avail.

Aside from the tension created by the lie, the series has boasted some of the most ingenious storylines and seen old rivals resurface and new enemies created.

Harvey’s suaveness in closing the most knotty of deals was always underpinned by Mike’s genius in finding the loopholes. In many ways, they are the Starsky & Hutch of the legal battlefield.

Last season, the writers upped the ante by merging the personal and professional troubles of our favourite characters. Aside from the Pearson and Darby partnership almost ruining the company – with oil tycoon Ava Hessington suing the firm for malpractice – Harvey tried to make things work with Scottie and Mike and Rachel argued over his future when he found himself at a crossroads: stay with mentor Harvey, but remain stifled career-wise, or take the investment banking job and free himself from the lie that is consuming him.

After some serious soul-searching, Mike did the unthink-able. He took the job.

Creator Aaron Korsh told Entertainment Weekly they needed to shake things up a bit. Of course, for a TV series this is crucial as the plot becomes monotonous if it doesn’t stray into bumpy territory. A perfect example of this would be The Good Wife.

Korsh noted: “It (the climax) was to set up the expectation that we are still going to see plenty of interaction between Harvey and Mike – it’s just going to change their dynamic and make it a little bit more fun maybe. Mike was underneath Harvey in the pecking order. Now, externally, you could make the argument that Mike is equal to or above Harvey, but still their personal relationship is not that.

“So that’s going to be the tension moving forward.”

That said, the new series introduces fresh faces, too: Melanie Papalia as Mike’s new assistant – she is his Donna, in a way; Michael Gross as a client. Brendan Hines becomes to Mike what Louis used to be to Harvey when he made partner. And let’s not forget that the US Attorney is desperate to take Harvey down as well.

Amid all the drama of last season, Louis – the underdog in the series – earned serious brownie points with Harvey and viewers. His team-player attitude and loyalty redeemed the bitter and ruthlessly ambitious person we first knew. Aside from coming to Jessica’s rescue, while still reeling from a broken heart, he also represented Harold to help Harvey.

In an interview with, Hoffman said: “The writers, starting with Aaron, have just made him into a human being. They keep coming up with some interesting and new dynamics. I’ve been having the time of my life playing this character. At times, it’s unbelievably challenging and scary, when it comes to certain vulnerable areas… You start to see bits of goodness, where all that crap came from in the first season. As long as there are things that are identifiable, it stirs something in people.”

On how he easily succumbs to the requests by Rachel or Jessica, he offered: “Another redeeming thing about Louis is that he respects women so much. This guy’s got a lot of shitty things about him, but there are a couple of nice things about him that are honest.”

With Harvey and Louis’s relationship evolving, could this mean an end to the rivalry?

“Their relationship has evolved in a direction, as dysfunctional as it is, that leaves people thinking about what happens next. They have specific differences. I guess that’s why there are people who like to watch the show.”

As the show delves into much darker and murkier terrain, the first episode starts with Mike and Harvey going up against each other in a hostile takeover case. And Rachel’s past with Harvey’s client, Logan Sanders, puts her in a very tricky spot with her boss and boyfriend, Mike. And that’s just to whet those appetites for the forthcoming instalment.

• The fourth season of Suits starts with back-to-back episodes on Saturday on M-Net (DStv channel) 8pm.