Can anyone explain what happened to “Suits”? I’m struggling to come up with why the show is still running and why they decided to substantially remove the drama from where it was at its creative peak. This season premiere didn’t feel like the “Suits” I fell in love with when it first premiered. It’s a completely different show, with a tone that feels unfamiliar and, quite frankly, wrong.

Season six picks right up where season five left off, with Mike Ross (SAG Award Nominee Patrick J. Adams, “Orphan Black”) adjusting to prison after pleading guilty to fraudulently practicing law despite not being an actual lawyer last season, and Pearson Specter Litt dealing with the consequences of pretty much all their staffers leaving as a result of a deal gone wrong.

In preparation for the season six premiere, I binged the last six episodes of “Suits” ’s fifth season that aired last winter and it felt like the series was preparing for its endgame. Where can this show go after permanently separating the show’s two leads in Mike and Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht, “The Spirit”) after having Mike’s guilty plea? Doesn’t that mean it just blew up its whole premise? The drama seemed lost during its premiere, trying to rediscover its tone with its new arcs while seeming to struggle greatly.

Mike’s prison story is what felt the most off-base from what “Suits” has done before. The premiere shows him trying to adjust to a new way of life and a new group of people while imprisoned. It’s embarking on a dark storyline, especially as Mike gets tricked by his original cellmate Frank (Paul Schulze, “24”) into telling his life story and texting his girlfriend Rachel (Meghan Markle, “Fringe”) from the man’s phone. Frank then reveals himself as someone Harvey is responsible for imprisoning, and that he’ll use this information to get back at him through Mike. A story of having Mike deal with villains in prison feels distinctly different from what the show used to be. The series invokes “Shawshank Redemption” a lot in these scenes, but it’s not nearly at the level of the movie it’s referencing.

Where “Suits” gives glimmers of hope is in its story involving Harvey, Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres, “Firefly), Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman, “Samantha Who?”), Donna (Sarah Rafferty, “Brothers & Sisters”) and Rachel trying to recover everyone from leaving. “Suits” is at its best when it throws an intriguing challenge at its lawyers while simultaneously watching them dig their way out of it, and elements of this idea were at play in the premiere’s storyline. Additionally, the moment where Louis accidentally gets some of his late assistant’s ashes on his face is one of the few moments where the episode allowed itself to loosen up and be humorous.

In this story, the show didn’t double down on its misery. It didn’t force the characters into situations where they’re not allowed to be happy, like it did for most of last season and it’s doing to Mike with the prison storyline. They’ve jettisoned the character off onto his own show and they’re struggling to figure out what it should be. Honestly, I might be done with the show at this point, because once they made this choice, there’s no way the show can reunite and become what it once was, even if there are hints of what I enjoyed about the show still existing.

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