This episode introduces the second season’s major story arc, which will be the power struggle between the two partners, Jessica Pearson and Daniel Hardman and how it affects the rest of the characters. Though Hardman was not in this episode, his influence was felt throughout as the battle lines were being drawn.
Mike arrives to work, apparently impressing Jessica enough to keep him on and continue the charade he and Harvey have established. He’s listening to the voicemail Rachel had left him as he got to work. On it, she tells him that she couldn’t stop thinking about their kiss. He listens to this with a smile on his face. Meeting Jessica in the elevator slightly dampens his buoyant mood as he nervously blathers about the chance Jessica has given him while she simply stands there , saying nothing, her disdain for Mike evident.
As Jessica enters the office, she finds the conference room under construction without her knowledge or consent. Hardman is having it converted into his new office and from the looks of it, it’s bigger than Jessica’s. The power struggle is officially on. Louis bitches about the paint color of the office and flat out asks who is now in charge (presumably so he knows whose ass to kiss) and because Hardman gave him the task of summarizing every case the firm is handling. Jessica assures him that they are working together and that she’s still in charge. It’s still too early to reveal the conflict.
Jessica decides to take the offensive and enlists Harvey’s help to shore up support among the various departments at the firm. She needs every department happy. That’s where Harvey comes in because everybody just loves Harvey. Well, not according to Donna, eavesdropping as usual. At Jessica’s invitation, Donna begins to list all the departments that have a beef with Harvey. Apparently, Harvey’s penchant for always being right has not made him many friends. The only department that doesn’t hate him is Bankruptcy, and that’s simply because Harvey doesn’t interact with them. Jessica orders Harvey to court Paul Porter, the head of the department. Neither of them like him and he doesn’t care for Jessica either because she’s a woman or black or as Harvey puts it, has an overbearing nature and holier-than-thou attitude, (or because she’s awesome) but they need him. Hardman will most likely call a vote and oust Jessica and Harvey. It’s already beginning as Mike walks in and declares Hardman awesome for providing the associates with an omelet bar. Despite Mike wanting to support Hardman because of the free goodies, Harvey points out that he’s willing to support a guy he’s never met over the partner who knows his dirty little secret. Jessica it is then.
At lunch with Porter later, the man in the bow tie knows why Harvey is trying to close him; Hardman’s back and Jessica needs support, but Porter’s fallen in favor, literally banished three floors down on Jessica’s watch. He wants respect and Harvey wants to help him keep a big client. Porter thinks the client should declare bankruptcy, though the client is fighting it and Harvey offers to keep him with the firm in exchange for backing Jessica. If Harvey can close the guy, they’ll talk. Since Harvey came to Porter, it’ll have to do, but Harvey has one more ace up his sleeve. Instead of playing a round with Porter, Porter has a tee time with a golf pro and gets a taste of what it’s like to be closed by Harvey.
Later, Mike and Harvey meet with the client, the developer of “Madison 25,” a new high rise. The guy doesn’t want to declare bankruptcy; he wants to protect his family name and the relationships he’s developed with his contractors. The guy’s willing to throw a Hail Mary, but as Harvey points out, you throw a Hail Mary when you have nothing to lose and with the real estate market changing, the guy has something to lose. However, being the kind of guy he is, Harvey’s gonna do his best to save the client’s dream. Mike has the idea to go to Louis and asks Donna to convince Louis to help them. Louis, who earlier tried to bribe Donna for information about Jessica and Daniel’s conflict with tickets to a play reading featuring Steep and Close, can get them a meeting with the major bank holding the loan. Donna sweet talks Louis into helping, but must attend the reading with Louis as payment. He gets Harvey and Mike the meeting, but they are shut down.
Porter’s pissed that instead of urging the client to declare bankruptcy, Harvey’s trying to save the project, risking that the whole thing will blow up in their face. Harvey argues he is simply trying to follow the client’s wishes. Earlier, the golf pro had said that Porter’s problem was that his game was weak because he is too cautious. Harvey disagreed, saying it was Porter himself who was too cautious, not his game. Apparently Harvey hadn’t gotten the memo about winning Porter to Jessica’s side. All he wants is Harvey to make the client sign the bankruptcy papers.
Declaring that he doesn’t take orders from a bow tie, Harvey and Mike find another way to save the client’s dream project. There are several other developments within a two block radius of Madison 25, which is the centerpiece. If it fails, all the other properties become undervalued. Not the bank’s problem except that they are backing 6 of the 8 properties, meaning the bank has another agenda.
Turns out the bank wants to foreclose on such a large piece of real estate as Madison 25 because they’re looking for a new corporate headquarters. They can take over the foreclosed property for pennies. No wonder people hate bankers more than lawyers. Just so happens that the companies behind three of the six properties the bank is backing ALSO happened to be represented by Pearson Hardman. When Harvey informs the companies of the bank’s plan that will ultimately undermine their investment, they’ll end up representing all six and move their business elsewhere, losing the bank approximately a shit load of money. Unless the bank re-negotiates Madison 25’s loan. Point for Harvey Spectre.
Or not. Harvey gets a personal visit from Jessica at his apartment who reams him for missing the point of her assignment entirely. His job was to make Porter happy, not take over his case and be a dick about everything (Jessica’s words). All the experts believe it’s best if “Porter’s” client declares bankruptcy and Harvey is not to pitch the deal he made with the bank. Jessica declares it’s not about Porter’s ego being bruised, but Harvey’s massive one.
Despite her orders, Harvey does what he thinks is right, telling the client his dream is still alive and effectively losing Porter’s support for Jessica. Meeting on the rooftop later, Jessica declares she feels betrayed. Despite knowing that Harvey looks out for number one, she thought he was her greatest asset. Turns out, he’s her greatest liability. She’s still pissed about having to keep Mike to retain Harvey, though it looks like he’s causing her more harm than good. Jessica is beginning to realize that at the end of the day, she’s alone.
On the Mike and Rachel front, Mike runs into Rachel after his encounter with Jessica on the elevator. After cornering her in the office, he tries to talk to her, but gets interrupted by Louis who needs Rachel in his office immediately. For lack of time (and common sense) Mike cuts to the chase and kisses Rachel in the middle of the office where anyone could see them, telling her he got the message. It’s romantic, but also kind of dumb. Rachel doesn’t seem to mind as the two flirt while they work on their respective assignments and decide to go on a date. They agree to set some ground rules for the office and Rachel asserts her prerogative not to sleep with Mike.
Fast forward to the date and the pair are basking in the newness of it all, with Mike trying to guess what Rachel was once arrested for when and admitting that he had Donna help him pick the restaurant. Rachel declares she loves honesty in a man and you can see that it stops Mike cold. His whole life is built on a lie. As Rachel uses her prerogative to change her mind about sleeping with Mike, he declares they should take it slowly and puts her in a cab. Freaking out, he shows up at Harvey’s door to find Harvey in a tux about to go out. Harvey has very little patience for Mike’s relationship problems, especially when Mike tells him he’s going to tell Rachel the truth. They argue with Harvey, accusing Mike of being ungrateful for what he did and too selfish to endanger himself, Harvey and Jessica, just to get laid. Mike argues that Rachel is on their side and he cares about Rachel, unlike Harvey who does seem to only care about getting laid. Harvey counters that she is on their side until Mike screws up and then she has leverage over all of them and Mike’s track record of relationships isn’t the best. Harvey gives Mike an ultimatum; he tells Rachel the truth and he’s done.
The next day, Rachel is debriefing Donna about the date. Donna for her part looks very uncomfortable, for good reason. Harvey told her about Mike’s plan to tell Rachel the truth. When Mike declares, “Harvey’s wrong about this. If he really cared about me, he wouldn’t be handing out ultimatums.” At that, Donna drags Mike into Harvey’s office and proceeds to inform him just how much Harvey cares about Mike. So much that Harvey was willing to quit the firm if Mike left. Faced with this information, Mike realizes he just might have to end things with Rachel. Wondering out loud how the two would be able to work together, Donna informs him it’s possible that the feelings go away eventually. It’s the first hint that her and Harvey’s relationship might not have always been strictly platonic. Left with seemingly no choice, Mike ends things with Rachel. He throws up reasons and excuses, but the message Rachel gets is that she’s not good enough for Mike; whether she thinks it’s because she’s just a paralegal or not white or any other number of reasons. Later, when Harvey finds Mike working in a file closet, he tells Mike he did the right thing. Mike rightly points out that it’s unfair that Mike must do whatever Harvey says, but Harvey can ignore Jessica at his leisure. Even with Harvey being right, it doesn’t make it any better.
Finally we have Louis, who will probably end up being a major figure in the firm’s power struggle. After a meeting with a head hunter, Louis tries to talk to Jessica who promptly dismisses him. Fuming in his office, Louis finds a gift from Hardman on his desk; a dictaphone he’s been wanting. Louis puts aside the headhunter’s card for the time being. When Jessica asks later what Louis needed from her, he says nothing. Point for Hardman.
The episode concludes with Harvey pushing Jessica’s coffee tray in a gesture of apology, telling her she’s not alone. She tells him to put the tray in the corner and he leaves, making it unclear whether or not Jessica believes his apology or even accepts it.
Best lines and pop culture references:
Harvey: I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
Harvey: Remind me to fire you.
Jessica: Remind me to give you a raise.
Mike: You’re afraid? Of the pineapple? I know it’s got a rough exterior, but it’s all sweet on the inside.
Harvey: I think we can take this to the bank.
Mike: See, that’s funny because we are going to a bank.