Donna. Oh, Donna. This week’s episode put one of my favorite characters through the wringer and by the end, my heart was broken and all my feelings were left shattered on the floor. Sometimes the choices we make in a moment of desperation or to protect someone else lead to dire consequences.
We start with Harvey taking a jog through Central Park; one of the few times we see him not dressed to the nines in a suit although his hair is still perfectly coiffed. He’s meeting a working acquaintance, Jeffrey, a sports agent trying to sign a 16-year-old tennis prodigy, Marco Mendoza. Jeffrey wants Harvey to talk to the kid as a favor. Marco wants to go pro; as an amateur he can’t enter most tournaments and can’t play against the best or be the best. Only problem is Marco’s father, who wants his son to wait until he’s 18 to go pro, and Marco wants Harvey to help him file for emancipation.
Back at the firm, Donna stands in front of the shredder, the infamous memo in her hand. Before she can pull an Enron, however, she’s interrupted by Mike, who points out she looks mighty guilty standing in front of that machine. Donna protests that she only came to shred in peace given that this piece of equipment is highly dangerous and makes a hasty exit.
At a meeting in Jessica’s office, Daniel’s brought in outside counsel to defend Harvey and the firm against the charges that they buried the memo. Their lawyer, Allison, recommends they put the opposing side on the defensive while Harvey wants to get them to drop the case entirely. His solution: go to the Randall family. Allison points out that Randall’s widow probably hates Harvey for how he trashed her husband in court. In her words, he wouldn’t be poking the bear; he’d be shoving a cattle prod up its ass. She’s proven right when later, Harvey ignores Allison’s advice and goes to talk to the widow himself. He is told in not so many words to go to hell.
Mike’s walking by Louis’s office when he hears Harold, Louis’s favorite whipping boy, sneezing his head off. He’s been tasked with taking care of Louis’s cat Bruno, an animal he treats with more love and compassion than he does human beings. Doesn’t matter that Harold is greatly allergic and is covered in an ugly rash, he must look after the feline who hasn’t been eating.
At a conference regarding Marco’s emancipation, Harvey has brought in the boy’s dad to try to convince him to allow his son to go pro. The story Harvey tells him about Michael Jordan (who just so happens to be represented by Harvey) taking two years off in his prime and regretting it fails to dissuade Mr. Mendoza. He states he only has his son’s best interest at heart like any good father and refuses to let his son go pro. Marco storms out and tells Harvey to go ahead with filing the emancipation. Harvey’s is going to do what his client wants though Mike believes Marco will later regret tearing his family apart; citing the last conversation he had with his dad before he died was a fight. Harvey’s not convinced, but he tells Mike that if he wants to save the kid’s family, he should convince Marco to halt his petition.
The guilt of hiding that memo must be getting to Donna because she’s in Rachel’s office, snapping at her about a missing birthday card and Rachel is left wondering what the hell is going on. After telling Rachel off at her desk (an exchange that’s witnessed by Mike) Donna heads down to the shredder once again and is once again interrupted by Mike. He’s figured out that she’s found the memo. Donna, for her part, tries to bluff her way out, but in the end, admits to Mike she’s found it and doesn’t know what to do. She knows she’ll disappoint Harvey by missing such an important document. Sarah Rafferty is great in this, portraying the fear and guilt of her character. Mike tells her she’s got to tell Harvey, destroying the memo is illegal, but she’s hesitant, even going so far as to threaten Mike because of his illegal status at the firm. Mike doesn’t budge, telling her that if she doesn’t tell Harvey, he will.
Donna heads to Harvey’s office to deliver the news though he thinks she’s there for her annual plead to have Halloween off (which is totally reasonable). Before she can get to the real reason she’s there, Daniel storms in, furious that Harvey ignored Allison’s advice and went to see the Randall widow. Donna makes a hasty exit as Daniel tells Harvey they’ve been served with a subpoena and they are now on the defensive. As a counter measure, Allison will have to interview everyone at the firm. Harvey gives her the go ahead and says she can start with Donna.
Mike is with Marco, trying to convince the teenager to drop his petition. When he fails, Mike asks Marco some questions: does his father abuse drugs? Does he have a gambling problem? Do they live in a slum? No? Well, they have to prove that Mr. Mendoza is an unfit parent, otherwise a judge won’t grant an emancipation to a father who wants his kid to finish high school. Hearing that, Marco reveals that his father sometimes pushes to train so hard he ends up in the hospital.
Allison is preparing her deposition with Donna, who is nervous, but covers it by just saying she’s bored. When Allison begins questioning her, she gives snarky answers and acts in every way like this is a waste of her time, but Allison sees right through it. She believes Donna knows what Harvey did with the memo and she’s covering for him. Donna denies it and it’s not technically a lie. Harvey has no idea about the memo and Donna stalks out of the conference room before Allison can ask her anything further.
Allison goes to Jessica with her suspicions about Donna and Harvey, but Jessica dismisses Allison’s observations out of hand. Allison wants Harvey to sign an affidavit saying his office never received the memo because she’s going after a dismissal. Jessica only thinks she’s doing this to cover her ass, but agrees to take it to Harvey anyway.
Bruno the cat is still not eating so Louis is taking him to the dentist (cat dentist, not his real dentist who is also Harvey’s dentist). Harvey mocks Louis’s cat carrier like it’s a man purse. Mike arrives with the bad news that Marco needs to be emancipated because of abuse. Harvey agrees and Mike wants to handle the hearing himself; his first big case. Harvey’s telling Mike to wait his turn when Jessica walks in, informing Harvey that Allison is filing a motion to dismiss. Since she’s swinging for the fences then so is Harvey; he’ll let Mike handle the hearing on his own. As Jessica and Harvey gush like two pseudo-parents, Jessica hands Harvey that affidavit to sign. Mike, knowing that if Harvey signs it, he’ll commit perjury, “accidentally” spills coffee all over the document. Harvey knows it wasn’t an accident and Mike is forced to tell him that Donna found the memo.
Like all good confrontations, the one between Harvey and Donna takes place in the women’s bathroom. Donna knows she’s in trouble the minute she sees Harvey. The scene is full of hurt and anger and the viewer understands just how much the lines between the professional and personal have blurred with the pair. The underlying tension in the scene is how Harvey can keep so much from Donna, who he’s known for years and yet pours so much effort into Mike. Harvey reassures her that finding the memo was a good thing, but then Donna drops the bombshell: she went ahead and destroyed the memo, putting Harvey in a dangerous position.
Harvey comes clean to Jessica, Daniel and Allison. Allison wants to cut a deal and Daniel agrees despite Harvey’s protests. At the hearing, Mike is questioning Mr. Mendoza, laying into him about his temper and the way he pushes his son. He brings up an incident where Marco was admitted to the hospital for dehydration. The father denies everything, but Mike is able to provoke him enough to make the man lose his temper, showing the judge the man may be a danger to his son.
In the break room, Louis snaps at Rachel who rightly points out that if he treated people half as nice as he treated his cat, people would like him more. Then she realizes Louis has been crying and he tells her that Bruno was too sick and he had to be put down. Before it can get any mushier, Louis leaves and Rachel is joined by Mike. When Rachel asks about Donna, Mike doesn’t give her all the details, but reassures her that Harvey will fix it. When Mike goes to double check that Harvey will fix it, he tells Mike that Donna destroyed the memo. Mike knows that Donna is sorry and Harvey knows she is, but she never said it.
Allison’s got a deal for the firm. The firm pays 5 million, strips Harvey of his senior partnership and reports him to the New York Bar. As Allison is delivering the news, Harvey once again visits Randall’s widow. This time he tells her he’s sorry for what happened. He’s never said it, but Mrs. Randall is having none of it.
Daniel thinks the firm should take the deal and cut Harvey loose. Daniel points out that if it was anyone else but Harvey, she’d let them go in a heartbeat.
Mike meets with Marco’s agent. He’s figured out that Marco lied about the abuse and his father covered for him on the stand. Turns out, the agent was the one at the hospital when he got dangerously dehydrated. The judge approved the petition for emancipation, but Mike’s not going to file something based on a lie and rips up the paperwork.
Harvey admits to Jessica that he went to see the plaintiffs again and that he’s sorry. As Jessica wonders if she’s in the right office Harvey also admits he can’t be the lawyer; he isn’t even a good client.
In a bid to reach out to Louis, Rachel commandeers the signed tennis ball Marco gave Mike and gives it to Louis who truly loves tennis. You can tell he’s touched, but can’t bring himself to say thank you.
Jessica meets with Daniel to tell him she’s fired Allison and to not so subtly remind him that she is in charge. She’s not letting Harvey go and she’ll represent him herself. Allison can’t win because she doesn’t believe in Harvey, but Jessica does and that’s why she’ll win. However, she admits, a law was broken and she won’t sit by and do nothing.
Jessica finds Donna in Harvey’s office and she does what most has suspected was coming; she fires Donna. It had to be done; there is no way she could let something like that slide, but it’s heartbreaking anyway. Rafferty once again does a great job in this moment as you see the wave of emotions flit across her face. Donna’s packing up her stuff (including the famous can opener) and heading to the elevators with “Build a Home” by Cinematic Orchestra in the background (this show pairs music and moments very well). There is very little dialogue in this scene as Donna reaches the elevators to find Harvey waiting. The two say nothing; just look at each other as Harvey gets the elevator for her. Watching the scene, Rachel asks Mike, “You said he was going to fix it?” Mike replies, “I thought he would.” There seems to be no fixing anything as Donna gets on the elevator and seemingly leaves Harvey’s life for good.