December 13, 2019

Love, Death & Robots “Suits” Review | Off the Beaten Path

Man, I think after watching The Witness, we need a serious change of pace. Luckily for us, the next episode Suits is not only up to the task, but it exceeds it. What’s more, Suits does it in a way I didn’t even fully get the first time I watched it. So without further delay, let’s hop into easily the most unique, humanistic, and outright best episode so far.

The Episode Summary

Like Mad Max: Fury Road, the narrative of the episode is told primarily throughout a fight. To avoid falling into the trap of “and then..” recounting, I’ll give you the setup and some key points. Set in a future farming community that’s both unmistakably futuristic yet endearingly similar to our own, our protagonists Hank and Beth are having dinner when they receive some bad news. The dome that surrounds their town has a breach by their cattle herd, and they need to go make sure nothing comes through.

Despite some grumbling, Hank dons an old Titanfall-esque battle suit and goes to the breach. While Hank attempts to protect the herd of cattle and seal the breach, Beth assumes the job of mission control. Once there, both Hank and Beth realize the breach is much worse than they could imagine. Thus begins a long night of fighting for their lives. They work with other members of the community, as things go from bad to worse against a seemingly endless sea of giant alien bugs. There is humor, there is heartbreak, but most of all there is an ironclad will to survive the night.

My Thoughts

Back when I watched Suits in March, I thought it was a unique enough episode. Right away, the animation essentially slaps you out of the growing feeling of monotony in a great way. The animation, again provided by Studio Blur (the animators of Sonnie’s Edge), was a delightful change of pace. While it is 3D CGI, it abandoned trying to look photorealistic. Instead, the animation leaned into a cartoony, video game feel that made me think of both Borderlands and Fortnite (in fact, this whole episode would make for an entertaining video game). After three episodes of CGI that looked fairly similar, it was a breath of fresh air.

My other favorite aspect back when I watched it was the world-building. The episode went all the way in making you believe this world was believable in the course of the story. Then there’s the technology. It looks and acts distinctly futuristic but is also brought down to Earth by looking realistically mundane and well worn.

The dialogue is also effective at bringing you to the mindset of the farmer while effectively introducing concepts without need of “as you know” exposition (look at the introduction of the DeeBees for a solid example of what I mean). All this, tied together with well-used animation, made this space country story feel like it was always there, only waiting to be told.

But after I watched it, it kinda fell by the wayside. I thought the premise was great, and the animation was great, but I felt like I had seen it before. I bet a number of you thought this too. A number of your standard story beats were there. There were many big hero moments. The only death came from a noble sacrifice. In the end, the community managed to pull through the night shaken but relatively unscathed (casualty-wise, they will have to rebuild the town).

It didn’t help that as I was blitzkrieging my way through the season, my weed soaked brain started blurring together the episodes that didn’t hit me immediately. Thus Suits fell by the wayside as an entertaining but ultimately forgettable watch only to be compared to the other video game-esque episodes Lucky Thirteen and The Secret War.

Man has that opinion changed for the better. Watching Suits the other night with a fresh perspective and a clear mind really did change my opinion about this episode for the better. I still loved the world-building, but what really clicked for me were the characters. Honestly, I forget that great world-building is nothing if you don’t have great characters to fill it.

Luckily for me, Suits showed me the folly of that kind of thinking. I felt connected to the characters this time in a way I haven’t yet so far with this rewatch. I laughed with Hank, Jake, and Cray Mel (my favorite character of the episode) as they poked, prodded, and quipped at each other on the front lines. I watched anxiously as they were soon overwhelmed by their seemingly innumerable foes and how they fought with everything they had. I felt the pain everyone felt when Jake sacrificed himself without remorse and resentment. I cheered for the resourcefulness of Beth as she repeatedly saved everyone from her position in the command post, including Hank. In the end, I sighed in relief when I saw that the townspeople, while wounded, would be able to survive.

In a way, I felt like I knew these people. These were people, who while they may have petty squabbles, would come together without complaint for the common good. None of this was for glory, but because that was what was needed. In other words, it was truly inspiring.

On a related note, this felt like a good antidote to the gender disparity of The Witness. Sure, the gender roles weren’t overly tested (other than Crazy Mel, it was the husbands who fought on the front lines). That said the episode went out of its way to show that the wives (primarily Beth and Jake’s wife Helen) who ran the control center were just as responsible for protecting the townsfolk as the mech pilots on the front lines, if not more so, all while having each other’s back.

In Conclusion

In short, this rewatch opened my eyes to Suits. It went from forgettable to my top five (that said, we’ll have to wait and see if it stays there). While some may wonder what the ending may mean thematically (that the community is only one of some small communities that dot an alien planet crawling with DeeBees), I honestly don’t care.

Suits to me is not about an ending or some kind of political message ala Starship Troopers. To me it’s about the power of a small community of people fighting together to survive another day, and that all that matters at the end of the day are the connections we share.

My Recommendation: Highly Recommend    

Joseph MacMaster

Writer extraordinaire in progress who hangs out with the Chicago Film Scene crew. I screenwrite for my fellow CFS filmmakers. I also write TV and movie reviews, and am a co-host/main writer of the Chicago Film Scene: Live! podcast.

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