In some ways, wildly contrasting emotions are a hallmark of Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman). He has a tough mind and a big heart, which means he’ll do just about anything to defend the people he cares about — like in the Season 7 episode “Hard Truths,” when he threatened to ruin the life of the state bar association’s Craig Seidel (Michael B. Silver). That would have been downright cruel, but Louis was desperate to help Jessica (Gina Torres), so to him the choice was clear. But sometimes, a confluence of conflicting emotions overwhelms Louis, creating a complicated reaction in our favorite mudder.
Louis’s therapist, Dr. Lipschitz (Ray Proscia), calls this process “the Seven Stages of Louis”: Panic. Sorrow. Self-Loathing. Hatred. Justification. Self-Loathing Again. And, finally, Rage. However, Louis may not experience every single stage each time he’s in crisis. As Dr. Lipschitz once noted, sometimes when Louis perceives a potentially nonexistent slight, he goes straight to rage — like in the episode “Mudmare,” when he thought Harvey (Gabriel Macht) and Alex (Dulé Hill) were laughing at him and churned himself into an instant fury. Here are some other emotionally tangled moments in the Seven Stages of Louis.
In Season 3, Louis became super-suspicious about the lawyerly credentials of Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams). He even snooped in the Harvard Law School files of his beloved, Sheila Sazs (Rachael Harris), after she ordered him not to look. Of course, he found no file on Mike Ross at all, but he couldn’t tell Sheila without revealing what he’d done. He looked into it on his own, and turned up Mike’s (fake) Harvard transcript. It included a clearly falsified A+ in Legal Ethics from Professor Gerard (Stephen Macht), who famously never handed out grades that high. Louis thought he had his smoking gun… and then Harvey asked Louis to do him a favor and let the grade thing go. Louis agreed, but when he tried to cash in that favor to get one of his cases back from Scottie (Abigail Spencer), Harvey said no dice. Fretting that Scottie’s poaching would dent his status at the firm, Louis worked himself into a swirl of frustration, paranoia, and guilt. He had betrayed Sheila and, maybe worse, neglected work to be with her one morning, ending up late to court. Then the Panic stage hit the red zone, and poor Louis actually had a heart attack during closing arguments.
At first, that heart attack seemed to have a silver lining. While recovering in the hospital, Louis asked Sheila to marry him, and she said yes! His joy was short-lived, however, when he learned she didn’t want kids. Next thing we knew, Louis was wallowing in misery on his couch, unable to even go to the office and take out his pain on some deserving adversary (or undeserving associate). Over the phone, he told then-associate Katrina (Amanda Schull) that his heart had been shattered into a thousand million pieces. And if he couldn’t put his heart into his work, he wasn’t going to do any work at all. In fact, he wouldn’t even pick up if Katrina called again. The invincible Louis Litt, sidelined by heartbreak? That was actually kind of scary.
Remember how we said these stages aren’t always in the order Dr. Lipschitz listed them? Let’s go back to No. 2, and back up a bit to right before Katrina called. Louis was already on the phone, demanding that Dr. L explain why he had thanked the delivery guy and tipped him $20 instead of throwing the chutney in his face because he brought an incomplete order and no silverware. Then Louis broke into a litany of self-loathing: He hates himself, he hates his life. The woman he loves is gone, his heart is broken, and he doesn’t have the will to live. Later, he said the same sort of thing to Jessica: He cannot see straight. He cannot think straight. And even if he wanted to come and help her beat back an attack by former name partner Charles Van Dyke (Jamey Sheridan), he wouldn’t be any good to her. No good to her? Luckily, Jessica had no time for that nonsense, and managed to snap him out of it by tapping into his protective feelings toward the firm.
In Season 5, Louis’s bottled-up animosity toward professional rival Harvey smashed hard into his protective feelings for his sister, Esther (Amy Acker), after he found out Harvey and Esther slept together and kept it from him. Fresh from being rejected by Harvey, Esther went to Louis’s office and canceled their dinner date, claiming she wasn’t feeling well. But a suspicious Louis quickly extracted the truth from Donna and confronted Harvey (with whom Louis was already furious for supposedly trying to steal back Donna as his secretary). Louis felt betrayed, and also imagined Harvey thought he was stupid. Harvey swore he was just about to tell Louis the whole story. That just enraged Louis, who suddenly ranted about how messed up Harvey was from whatever happened to him in his pathetic childhood that -- BAM! Harvey (who just happened to have been working out his mother issues in fraught therapy sessions with Dr. Agard) punched Louis and threw him into a glass table. Thankfully, Louis wasn’t badly hurt. But for a while, it would have been easier to glue that table back together than to fix things between him and Harvey.
Louis has a big heart, but his ego might be just a tiny smidge bigger. Let’s face it, he knows he has talents. And when he senses they are being under-appreciated, he finds excuses for doing whatever it takes to get what he thinks he deserves. That’s the only way to explain why, in Season 2, he decided to throw in his lot with Daniel Hardman (David Costabile). He felt like Jessica favored Harvey, and he couldn’t do anything to change that. But Hardman courted Louis, well, hard. Louis was so fixated on being in the good graces of a superior (and getting to be senior partner) that he actually voted for that snaky snake to become managing partner over Jessica -- even after finding out Hardman had set him up to take the fall when he embezzled money from the company. For a time, Louis had what he wanted, but it came at a price that was almost too high to pay.
6. Self-Loathing (Again)
What a tangled web Louis wove in Season 4, what with him messing up Jessica’s attempt to keep the SEC off the firm’s back and then ending up in an even worse position after entering into a secret deal with the devil —--aka Charles Forstman (Eric Roberts) -- to try to fix things. Even though he eventually managed to help, Jessica still planned to fire Louis for being so untrustworthy. But this time, Louis was not feeling justified or under-appreciated. Instead, he hated himself for letting his ambition overwhelm his judgment. His self-loathing was so acute, he resigned from Pearson Specter. He wrote that he was ashamed of having put everyone at the firm in jeopardy for his own personal gain. He admitted he did it so he could feel like he was the equal of Jessica and Harvey. “Your names are on the wall for a reason,” he wrote, “and mine is not for a reason.” To spare his friends -- his family -- the pain of having to fire him, he left the only firm he’d ever worked for. The only place he’d ever loved. (We’re not crying — you’re crying.)
As we know, that Season 4 mea-culpa moment didn’t last long. Shortly later, Louis discovered real proof of Mike’s deception — and angrily leveraged that knowledge to force Jessica to make him a name partner. His unconfined fury was alarming to behold, but at least it was pretty justified. We can’t say the same about what happened in the first episode of Season 7. Louis was reeling from losing yet another love (not to mention a chance to become a dad), after fiancée Tara (Carly Pope) broke off their engagement. When one of his associates asked for time off to attend his own child’s birth, Louis vividly imagined the whole room was laughing at him. (Ironically, he had thrown himself back into looking after the associates, his “children,” in part to make himself feel better about maybe never getting to have kids of his own.) Yep, just like Dr. Lipschitz said, Louis perceived a potentially nonexistent slight, and viciously ripped into two associates in a deeply personal — not to mention potentially actionable — way. Yeow.
The thing about Louis is, even when he’s totally losing it, we always hope things will somehow turn out okay. After all, his worst emotional implosions often begin with the best of intentions. He just needs to keep working things out. At least he has the perfect therapist. Dr. Lipschitz has a way of making Louis accept his foibles, even when he doesn’t want to admit he has any. Remember when the doc revealed his list of stages to Louis? Instantly, Louis started ranting about Lipschitz being a total fraud. Then, like the flip of a switch, he suddenly calmed down and said, “I see your point.” The doctor replied, “Stage 7B,” but he didn’t elaborate. We’re just going to guess that stage is Acceptance.
We know Louis is making a lot of progress -- and we hope for more when Suits returns January 23. If you don't already know... he's has some big changes in life. Binge-watch the first half of Season 8 to see for yourself!