Suits: a binge-watcher's companion guide
Now that Meghan Markle's time on the TV show has come to an end, Ed Power looks back on the binge-worthy power of the hit series, and the episodes that show the future royal in a very different light
After what feels like a lifetime of hype, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry finally walk down the aisle later this month. But as build up to the royal wedding reaches fever pitch, viewers of courtroom caper Suits can sit smugly back. They've already seen Markle in a wedding dress, pledging herself to the special man in her life. Second time around is bound to be anticlimactic.
Unless you've spent the past several months locked in a dungeon, you'll know that, prior to becoming famous as Harry's other half, Markle was best known for playing hard-charging lawyer Rachel Zane on the aforementioned series.
Suits is silly, broad and tremendously corny and the storyline is packed with soap-opera level twists, spills and reversals.
But it's also completely addictive - a show that could have been designed with the binge-watch era in mind. As Rachel, Markle has played the key romantic interest in the series (she has now left to focus on being a right royal celeb). Her paramour, Mike Ross (Patrick J Adams), is a college dropout who bumbles his way into an internship at a high profile law firm after lying about graduating from Harvard.
He and Rachel are in many ways opposites - Mike is a scrappy outsider; his fiancé is the daughter of a senior partner at one of New York's most prestigious legal practices. She has grown up in her dad's shadow and, though determined to forge a career of her own, struggles initially to deal with the weight of the family name.
Nobody has ever hailed Markle as the next Meryl Streep and Rachel isn't the most multi-faceted character. But her arc from frustrated paralegal to take-no-prisoners lawyer is persuasively drawn and the thrills and spills of her romance with Mike keep you glued. But what if you're new to Suits and don't know where to start? Obviously you will want to guzzle down the entire seven seasons ahead of the royal nuptials - that's just 112 episodes, or a little over 6,000 minutes.
However, on the off chance you don't have 6,000 minutes to spare between now and May 19 (when Meghan and Harry finally, at last, for good, tie the knot) here's a quick starter's guide to Suits and Rachel.
Season One: Episode One, Pilot
"You're hitting on me… can we get it out of the way that I'm not interested?" says steely paralegal Rachel five seconds after newcomer Mike claps eyes on her.
"I was… I was hitting on you?" he says, a little mystified.
"You were," she continues, as she commences her guided tour of his new place of employment (the one he's just fibbed his way into). "Take notes… I'm not going to be repeating myself."
Thus was Rachel Zane introduced to viewers - and to her future husband Mike Ross. But if she appeared initially unimpressed, her disdain later softened into respect and ultimately romantic longing. She discovered that she had feelings for Mike after he got back with ex Jenny.
Season One: Episode Nine, Undefeated
Rachel was more than just a love interest. In season one, a colleague frames her as a mole within the firm, earning her a suspension from senior partner Louis Litt. She clears her name and is called into Louis's office for an apology. But she demands more: a 10pc raise and a promise that her college tuition (she wants to get into Harvard) will be paid. It's a 'you go, girl' moment that rises above Suits' soapy melodrama.
Season Two: Episode 16, War
Viewers' screens fogged up when Mike confessed to Rachel that he'd lied about his Harvard degree and her fury culminated in a naughty tryst in the legal library. Outerwear was removed and things got as hot and heavy as basic cable TV could permit. After Meghan became properly famous by dint of her relationship with Prince Harry, the clip lit up on YouTube with 1.5 million views and counting.
Season Four: Episode Six, Litt the Hell Up
Prior to meeting Mike, Rachel had a fling with married-but-very-hunky business heir Logan. When he took over the family business Rachel found herself back in his orbit - an orbit that culminated in a sneaky snog at his office. She pushed him away - eventually - but was clearly wracked with guilt and when she confessed her moment of weakness to Mike, their romance was jeopardised. As a showcase for Markle's acting, this is one of the series' most significant moments - she truly looks conflicted as she and Logan devour one another's faces.
Season Seven: Episode 16, Good-Bye
The one you've read about! Rachel and Mike have been planning their wedding since forever. But now they have been offered a once-in-a-lifetime gig at a not-for-profit Seattle law firm. It's too good an opportunity to turn down - even if it involves pushing their wedding forward. Let's go for it, says Rachel and, in a flash, she is walking down the aisle in a modest wedding dress.
For all the hype, the actual ceremony is over in a jiffy and tacked on at the end of a two-hour series finale, after which she bowed out from the show (Adams has departed too).
The actual royal wedding will, you suspect, go on a bit longer.