The downside of vacation is that when a person returns from vacation, they are faced with two things; 1) the jarring reality that the must return to their day-to-day life and 2) they have some TV watching to catch up on (if that’s they’re thing). The latter definitely helps soften the blow of the former.
Since I’ve been on vacation the last couple of weeks, I’ve had much TV watching on the agenda and in order to catch everyone up on the action at our favorite law firm (and to keep the length of this recap sensible), I’m going to highlight the main characters and go over the significant action and developments for each one.
The majority of this season has focused on how Harvey’s actions, while benefiting the man himself, have affected and even harmed those around him. This trio of episodes has highlighted the hidden consequences of walking through life thinking you’re better than everyone else (even if it is true). In episode 7, “Sucker Punch,” Harvey’s at a deposition with Travis Tanner. After stating that his main goal is to get Harvey disbarred, Tanner manages to accomplish what no one on the show has been able to do; rattle Harvey. After a few choice comments regarding Harvey’s family, Spectre punches him, drawing blood. It’s the first glimpse we see of a new Harvey, one a bit more emotional and not as cool. When the idea of a mock trial comes up to prepare Harvey for Tanner’s cross-examination, Harvey agrees to it. The mock trial also serves as an attempt to re-brand Harvey’s reputation at the firm. He enlists the help of Zoe (played by Jacinda Barrett, who happens to be Gabriel Macht’s wife), a former lawyer at the firm turned jury consultant to help select the real-life jury and read the other partners as they watch the mock trial. The two share a history that’s flirty but not quite romantic. They spend their first scene bickering about who didn’t call whom five years ago and it’s a template for how all of Harvey’s relationships seem to turn out. Later, as the outcome of the mock trial hangs in the balance, Zoe reveals that the reason she didn’t stay connected with Harvey is because he never showed any vulnerability and if he doesn’t show any at the mock trial or on the stand, he’ll lose on both fronts. When Donna is brought in to testify (after much convincing and promising she’ll only plead the fifth), she faces a barrage of questions she must answer, the main one being – is she in love with Harvey? Harvey jumps in to end the line of questioning, showing the caring he obviously tries so hard to hide. Mike is able to find dirt on Tanner, and Hardman uses it as leverage to get a good plea bargain, but it involves the other partners having to pay $100,000 each. Harvey and Jessica still want to go to trial, but Mike points out that Harvey is selfish for rejecting the plea; he’ll only end up hurting those he claims to care about. Harvey goes against Jessica’s wishes and votes to take the plea deal. It’s then that Hardman reveals his cards; he’s calling for a vote among the senior partners to have Jessica removed as the managing partner.
Another set of consequences of Harvey’s life choices is shown in episode 8, “Rewind.” Told mostly in flashback, we see the events surrounding the uncovering of Hardman’s embezzling and Harvey ascending to the ranks of junior partner. It’s also revealed that Donna had a major role in helping Harvey achieve partner status as her information and sources at the firm helped Harvey uncover Hardman’s scheme. In the midst of the action, Harvey receives word that his father has died (after Harvey fails to return his calls due to work). In the present day, Harvey’s heading out of the city on a train, stopping at a liquor store and getting two bottles of the good stuff. He ends up giving one to a groundskeeper and the second one he drinks at the grave of his father, spending the time in death he couldn’t share with him in life.
In episode 9, “Asterisks,” Harvey seems to be learning his lesson and reaches out to Donna to beg her to return (which she does) and to connect with Louis (whom Hardman made senior partner) to win his vote for Jessica. After failing to close Louis, he offers Jessica one of the few things Louis might want from him: his office.
What these three episodes have revealed is how integral Donna has been to Harvey’s success. The hurt and anger she displayed in “Sucker Punch,” when Harvey visits her is, completely justified. Harvey’s come to ask her to testify at the mock trial and Donna reveals she’s hired her own lawyer and plans on pleading the fifth. She rightly points out that Harvey didn’t fight for her like he fought for Mike. He didn’t even have the decency to fire her himself like he was planning on doing for Mike; he had Jessica do it for him. She totally would not be blamed for refusing to help him, but she does after Mike comes to plead Harvey’s case and reminds her that he told her to tell the truth, but she didn’t, and everything that’s happened is now on her head. The viewer is left to wonder if Harvey would have been as successful as he is without Donna since it was them working as a team that helped Harvey ascend the ladder at the firm. As Harvey states in episode 8 as he uses Donna’s intelligence gathering and sharp mind to his advantage, “WE just made partner.”
Personally, I wish Donna had held off on accepting Harvey’s offer to come back to the firm in “Asterisks,” but I’m glad she’s back. She makes it clear that despite Louis’ line of questioning at the mock trial, she’s not IN love with Harvey (though it’s hinted that she once was), and she comes back after the promise of a big bonus check and the opportunity to fire the temp. She immediately slips back into her role of saving everyone’s ass when she realizes from a set of clues that Louis was made senior partner by Hardman and the votes could swing his way.
Mike and Harvey are doing a bit of a role reversal; as Harvey is showing his more emotional side and is becoming willing to make compromises, Mike is really turning into another version of Harvey. It’s his idea to find dirt on Tanner to leverage a better settlement agreement. It’s also he who gives Louis the best ammunition to attack Harvey in the mock trial and to slightly emotionally manipulate Donna into coming in for the mock trial. He’s great at it, too; enough so that in “Asterisk” he earns a nice bonus check from the firm, enough to get a great apartment for his grandma in Manhattan. It’s a far cry from where he was in “Rewind,” getting high everyday at the encouragement of his “friend” Trevor (so glad that guy is gone) and finding more lucrative employment as a test taker for would-be law students.
Mike still retains some of his emotional side as he’s excited about being able to provide for his grandma like she did him and becoming flustered when she shows up unannounced at the firm to have lunch with him after he’s had to cancel so much because of work. He has to cancel one last time on her as he’s working late, but he knows the new apartment will make it up to her. Sadly, she never gets to see it. As Mike is preparing the apartment, Rachel shows up instead of his grandma. She tells him his grandma died and the nursing home couldn’t get ahold of him. Like Harvey, Mike let his work interfere with his relationships; however, unlike Harvey, who kept his emotions in check when he heard the news about his father, Mike ends up breaking down in Rachel’s arms.
The last three episodes haven’t so much revealed new insight into Jessica as solidified who she is as a person and a lawyer. As she states in one episode, she has to be utterly ruthless given that there are so few women of color in high ranking positions in law. She does show compassion when she confronts Hardman on the embezzling in “Rewind” and she believes his line about using the money to pay for his wife’s care, but has no qualms about getting rid of Hardman and his mistress when she learns the truth. Harvey got at least a part of his aggressive ways from Jessica, though she sees no room in her life for vulnerability, given that it will be seen as weakness. Her only missteps have been in regards to Louis. Her blatant favoritism toward Harvey may very well cost her position as Louis now has the deciding vote.
In this newest season, I think the person I’ve come to like the most is Louis. Sure, he’s an asshole, but there is an integrity and even a humility about his douchiness (if that’s possible). Louis is every bit as good a lawyer as Harvey, but his continued status as second chair to Harvey has begun to really grate. He’s chosen to act as Tanner during the mock trial because he’s the one person who might hate Harvey as much as Tanner does. Like Harvey, he does what it takes to get the job done, but he feels the consequences a bit more deeply. When confronted by Harvey about his questioning of Donna, Louis fights back, placing the blame squarely on Harvey’s shoulders about what he had to do to that “beautiful woman.” Louis has every right to be angry and resentful of Jessica and most would not blame him if he voted against her. What is most sad is that no matter which way he votes, Louis is still the pawn in Jessica and Hardman’s power struggle. Both sides have played him; Hardman, with promoting him to senior partner despite the fact that Hardman tried to implicate Louis as the embezzler, and Jessica, who is just now seeing Louis’ worth even if it is through the lens of her own ambition. I do have to say, Louis’ strut through the office in “Asterisk” the day after he got the promotion was priceless.
Rachel was much more of a periphery player in these last three episodes. The only major event for her character was finding out the results of her LSATs, which were more than good enough to get her into any law school. There was also a very sweet moment in “Rewind” where she and Donna meet for the first time and realize, almost instantly, that they’re going to be great friends.
Next week is the summer finale and we find out who comes out on top of the power struggle that’s gone on all season. Stay tuned.