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An ode to D.B. Woodside's fierce return to 'Suits'

D.B. Woodside returned to Suits on Wednesday night, and his comeback was something worth getting excited about. Since he was introduced in the first episode of season 4, Woodside and his character Jeff Malone have brought an extra serving of ass-kicking to the hit USA legal drama.

Jeff was originally introduced as a fierce SEC prosecutor looking to break rank—for a senior partnership of course. Not the most endearing introduction for a new recurring character. But at the same time, his romantic relationship with Jessica (Gina Torres) added another layer not only to her character but the whole of Suits’ already thorough universe.

Make no mistake about it, Woodside is a badass. He’s been a badass since he was Principal Robin Wood on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then he went on to be chief of staff turned President Wayne Palmer on 24, and there was also that memorable scene where he slugged Jeff Hephner’s Red Raymond on Hellcats (which might be the only time I’d be okay with anyone slugging Jeff Hephner). As we speak, he’s on Lucifer playing a freaking warrior angel. This isn’t somebody you want to get on the wrong side of.

That was also true on Suits. Every time Jeff steps up to the plate, he’s playing hardball. Whether it was getting the job at Pearson Specter Litt or now defending Jessica from the wrath of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he’s a brick wall of awesome. There are a lot of tough talkers on the show, but he’s one of the rare ones who you believe could actually follow that up with something a lot heavier than words.

At the same time, he’s been a welcome place of solace for Jessica, which is something she deserves and the show needs. As Harvey pointed out at the end of “Faith,” Jessica has sacrificed a lot (sometimes things that only affect her, and sometimes things that affect other people) in order to keep her name on the wall. Since the demise of her marriage to Quentin (Russell Hornsby), her career really has been her world and it has made her increasingly single-minded. Jeff’s arrival gives her a Plan B—something else she has to consider.

For fans, it’s important for us to see that. Jessica so often has to play taskmaster or be the bad guy in the Pearson Specter Litt offices. It would be too easy for her to be the queen of the firm who just orders people around and whom we can’t identify with. Through watching her relationship with Jeff, we’ve been able to see her outside of the office and outside of her comfort zone, and that’s made her a more interesting character.

It’s also simply a joy to see Woodside and Gina Torres play off of one another. TV buffs will recognize that Suits is the third time they have played a couple on television, following 2003’s The Law and Mr. Lee and season 3 of 24. Their experience working together and doing so in this specific capacity really comes through on screen. The audience can’t help but root for Jeff and Jessica to make it work, because the actors have history and chemistry that you can’t manufacture.

Will they have a shot at reconciling? We’ll have to see. The two still have feelings for one another, but they also have some differences in professional ethics that they need to reconcile, and of course there’s the threat of Jessica going to prison. But with Suits‘ willingness to bring back characters, there’s nothing that says they can’t have a second chance. Even if Woodside’s busy with Lucifer, Jeff can still be someplace in the universe. After all, that’s where Scottie resided until last week.

Jeff Malone has been a fantastic addition to the Suits universe. He adds something on both the professional and personal sides of the series, which isn’t something that can be said for all the characters who have come through the door. More than that, D.B. Woodside is a great actor who punches up the place every time he shows up. There’s never going to be anyone better to play off Gina Torres (except for maybe her husband Laurence Fishburne). So as many times as he’s willing to come back, Suits should just leave the door wide open.

Just when we thought the casting of Leslie Hope as Assistant U.S. Attorney Anita Gibbs was the coolest part of the new episodes of Suits, D.B. Woodside had to come back and make it even better. No matter what the show hands him, he finds a way to take it up another notch. And if Jeff is able to work it out with Jessica, then it’s not only good for her, but also even better for the show—the actors’ dynamic and that extra level of talent in its already stacked deck.

Now if only we could sneak a 24 reference in there somewhere …

Suits airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on USA.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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