'Suits' season 8: The law firm drama is bigger and better, sans Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane

The 'Suits' season 8 debut has laid all our fears to rest. If anything, it actually appears to be much more promising than any of its former seasons.

                            'Suits' season 8: The law firm drama is bigger and better, sans Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane
(L-R) Executive producer Aaron Korsh, actress Meghan Markle, actor Patrick J. Adams, actor Gabriel Macht, actress Gina Torres, actor Rick Hoffman, and actress Sarah Rafferty (Source:Getty Images)

Rachel Zane exited 'Suits' last season with fiance Mike Ross to settle down in Seattle, and at first, it was worrisome as a fan. After all, Rachel Zane was one of the few strong female characters in the show, apart from the evergreen Donna Paulson. The story arc of the couple was one of the more humane parts of the swanky, cold and fast paced law firm drama. But the new season debut has laid all our fears to rest.

If anything, it actually appears to be much more promising than any of its former seasons. While you do miss Rachel as the flashback montage plays but the nostalgia is quickly replaced by excitement as soon as Samantha Wheeler steps onto the screen in the boxing ring, soon after. 

The first episode of what looks like a super intense season has been named, bang on - 'The Right-hand Man.' Before we get to that, let's quickly catch up.

Harvey Specter and Robert Zane are going neck to neck as to who would be the managing partner of the firm after their merger to save Person Specter Litt. Like Kings in a game of chess, the two bring on their most trusted sergeants to battle it out. Harvey unsurprisingly picks his trusty Alex Williams, and Robert falls back on Samantha. The two agree that whoever gets their client to drop, wins and gets their name on the wall. Harvey decides to play dirty and goes after Robert's client. What follows is a lot of back and forth between the two parties, and ultimately, Harvey wins, but with a catch. Robert and Harvey had made a pact that they would keep out of the case and since Harvey doesn't keep his promise, in the words of the new managing partner of Pearson Specter Litt, Robert Zane, "wins the battle but loses the war."

Harvey and the firm's habit of stirring trouble are seven seasons old, but what really stands out about this episode in spite of how the plot is about the two men, is how powerful the women of 'Suits' are. Donna Paulson has come a long way from being just a sexy redhead secretary and having a will they won't they character arc with Harvey. She's COO now, and that suits her. Her wisdom seems to have tripled - she knew just what to say to Harvey as he ran off to find Judge Thomas, she handled Louis and his intern problem as well as pointed Katrina in the right direction. While we've always known her to be the rogue agent who refuses to listen to everything her boss says, we see that changing. As far as, Harvey and Donna's romance angle is concerned, it doesn't seem to be happening in the near future. 

Speaking of the women of 'Suits,' one must applaud Katherine Heigl's casting. She's the epitome of chaos as Samantha Wheeler. She's slick, resourceful and extremely intelligent - she's like the female equivalent of Harvey Specter. Jessica Pearson was one character stronger than Harvey, and her loss was quite evident throughout season seven. There's no sign Heigl's of the designated bridesmaid persona. She's very believable as Sam, the woman, who is so good at her job, she's always assumed to be a man. 

Heigl herself is reviving a career which had sort of come to a halt after 2007. Heigl's comment about the film 'Knocked Up' being sexist was blown out of context at the time yet she found herself apologizing for it. She had originally said, "It was a little sexist. It paints women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I'm playing such a b***h; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you're portraying women? Ninety-eight percent of the time it was an amazing experience, but it was hard for me to love the movie." But none of that seems to matter anymore since we are in the age of #MeToo and Time's Up.

Heigl's character is much like this portrayal, but the only difference is, Samantha Wheeler couldn't care less. She's amazing at her job, is very ambitious (she wants to be named partner by the end of the year), she is as cunning as they come and has no time for forced niceties. Is this Heigl's ultimate revenge on all those who found her statement offensive? Perhaps. 

Katrina Bennett's character arc is also worthy of appreciation in this episode. While her moral compass is always known to be strong, this episode lets us in on just how much. She worships Louis Litt, but also refuses to budge when she thinks he is being unreasonable. She absolutely won't do what she thinks isn't right, which is a quite in contrast to the world of the law firm that runs on good bluffs. Within the law, of course. Going through a learning curve, her character realizes that life isn't always black or white. 

As far as the setting of the season is concerned, it does seem like this season will be all about feuds - some with each other, some with themselves. Since Sam also wants to be a partner, there's trouble brewing on the horizon - so does Alex. We may see a Robert - Harvey war soon. There's also a conflict slowly coming toward Katrina's way. I'm almost certain things will not work out for Louis and Sheila. Alex may just find himself caught in the crossfires. Until then, there's work to be done.

'Suits' has finally gone back to the show we have always loved - the shrewd and smart law firm drama with a hint of sexual tension, a dollop of strained aggressiveness and a whole lot of drama. Here's hoping this streak continues. Catch suits every Wednesday on USA Network.