Although the central relationship in Suits is the mentor/protégé dynamic of Harvey and Mike, the beating heart of the show has always been the rock-solid bond between Harvey and Donna. Harvey and Mike are compelling because they’re still learning about each other, constantly testing the limits of their newfound friendship. Harvey and Donna, however, were established long before the show began, and are so connected very little dialogue is even necessary to define this connection; it just is. There is no Harvey at Pearson Hardman without Donna. Hell, without Donna it is likely there is no Harvey at all. Which presents a compelling question: What happens to Suits when this relationship is shaken to the core?
One of the better things Suits has developed in regards to Harvey’s character is the constant affirmation that although he might steamroll and intimidate his way into a victory, he would never demean his affection for the law by doing anything truly unethical. The conflict comes in because no one outside his close circle of confidantes sees this; they only see a cutthroat lawyer willing to do anything to win a case (and his history working for a less-than-honest District Attorney doesn’t help). So when Travis Tanner comes strutting back into town looking for a way to get one over on Harvey for good, it’s easy for everyone to believe Harvey may have buried a crucial memo in order to get a win.
The problem—as we learned at the end of the last episode in a devastating cliffhanger—is that Harvey didn’t bury the memo: Donna somehow misplaced it, and from there everything for Donna (and for the story) goes completely wrong. It’s not hard to believe that Donna could accidentally lose such an important piece of evidence; she’s been shown as nothing but whip-smart and capable, but mistakes happen to even the smartest people. It is a bit harder to swallow that once she discovered her mistake she would compound that mistake by making several exponentially worse ones. From everything we’ve seen of her relationship with Harvey, it’s based on nothing but mutual respect and trust. Her instinct to protect Harvey from her mistake is natural, but it’s almost impossible to believe she would think destroying the document would do anything but hurt both of them; especially since it seemed to happen after she was aware everyone in the office was being deposed and could potentially have to testify in court. Donna is a lot of things, but someone who would willingly perjure herself isn’t one of them.
It’s frustrating that the story was built on such shaky footing because all of the scenes it spawned were extremely strong. Sarah Rafferty works so well with everyone in the cast and really got a chance to shine tonight, whether it was Donna going toe-to-toe with Mike when he discovers her secret, being confronted by Harvey once he finds out, or ultimately being fired by Jessica. I have no doubt Donna will be back on the show somehow, but even knowing this there was genuine emotion in her exit. She might have gone out because of an unconvincing plot choice, but that didn’t interfere with the honestly of the character relationships, which is ultimately the most important thing.
As for Harvey, he spent the entire hour blissfully oblivious to Donna’s turmoil and attempting to Harvey his way out of the lawsuit altogether. For as many times as Harvey succeeds in talking his way out of situations he also fails, and it’s only because of Jessica’s continued confidence in his integrity and loyalty that he muddles his way through this one without making things into an even bigger mess. Complicating the mess is Daniel Hardman, who is still sort of the storm on the Suits horizon, showing all the potential of wreaking havoc at a moment’s notice but really only waiting along the edges, threatening rain but never delivering. This slow-play could be a problem if handled differently, but having Hardman complicating matters with such subtlety feels like a much smarter play. Hardman is an obvious adversary but his timing and methods are still a mystery, even to Jessica, which is why she has to fight even harder to keep Harvey around and still on her side, even if it means firing the outside counsel who wants to sell him out and defending him herself.
As for Mike, he gets the chance to try his second case on his own, the emancipation of a teenage tennis phenomenon from the controlling father who won’t let him turn pro. As a case-of-the-week this one barely registers, telegraphing the teen’s lies of abuse from the beginning and Mike’s inevitable reaction to them the entire time. What’s increasingly confusing about a lot of Mike’s case involvement is whether or not he wants to be a lawyer for Pearson Hardman or whether he wants to be a lawyer for the moral police. Yes, the case was brought to Harvey by a somewhat slimy sports agent but the teen was the client, and Mike’s whole goal in taking the case was to reconcile the father and son and avoid emancipation completely. If the teen wanted to become emancipated, shouldn’t it have been Mike’s job to find a way to make this happen, no matter his personal feelings?
Perhaps it was because there wasn’t truly enough time to make all of the connections necessary to make this one work, but his confrontation with the agent at the end and show of ripping up the emancipation papers felt smug, rather than triumphant. Mike already walks a very thin line between idealistic and holier-than-thou, so the show would be wise to mind just how far they let him stray into the latter territory.
- One other small quibble with Mike’s story: I don’t believe Jessica would so easily allow Mike to try a case in court knowing what she knows about his status, and I definitely don’t believe she’d make a joke about it.
- Interesting bit of backstory hinted at between Jessica and Daniel, with them mentioning they “crossed the other names off the letterhead.”
- Poor Louis. Poor Louis’ cat. But I guess now he has a tennis ball signed by some kid who might be famous some day?
- Rachel desperately needs something to do. Remember when she took the LSAT? That was actually interesting, and then they never mentioned it again.
- Harold was used well as comic relief in the past, but these past two weeks have been a bit painful. He might be a character best be used for a spare one-liner.
- Harvey: “I’m not going to fire you, Donna. I might kill you, but I’m not going to fire you.”
- “Who still eats Twinkies?” “Who doesn’t still eat Twinkies?”