There were several “sucker punches” in this week’s aptly titled episode of Suits. There was, of course, the literal sucker punch that Harvey landed on Travis Tanner’s face as well as the figurative one Donna landed when she refused to testify in the mock trial Pearson-Hardman had orchestrated to smooth out the wrinkles in their case against Tanner—namely, that it would be hard to sell Harvey as a lawyer with integrity to a bunch of strangers when most of the people he worked with, including the partners who hold his job in their hands, didn’t actually see him that way themselves. There was also the shocking line of questioning/badgering that Louis dealt when Mike managed to convince Donna to testify despite her apprehension. She surely wasn’t expecting it to be a good time, but Louis definitely crossed a line that had her walking away from her former peers humiliated. Finally, there was the one we’ve been waiting all season to see: Daniel Hardman’s betrayal, just when he had started to make us question our haste to take Team Jessica’s side way back at the beginning of the season. Yup. He went there.
For the first time in the series, Harvey’s “damage” was discussed openly and seriously. It’s been hinted at since the beginning that Harvey came from not only a poor family, but possibly an abusive one, and while his background has shaped him into the driven paragon of secret morality that he is today, it’s not something that Harvey finds pride in. Harvey’s past goes beyond being a “touchy” subject—it's one that is absolutely verboten, outside of the pleasantly patriotic detail that he started out working in Pearson-Hardman’s mail room and eventually ended up being made a partner.
But the thing is, as Mike put it, “People are who they are.” As much as Harvey tried to deny his roots and their continued influence on his life, at his core, he can’t help but care. In a desperate bid to show the partners who Harvey Specter truly is, Jessica assaulted his defenses with a ruthless line of questioning designed to bring it all out. Harvey was raised not to be weak—“If they think you’re weak, they’ll walk all over you.” Caring is a weakness in the armor; to appear to care is to point a flashing neon arrow at those weak spots. Case in point, Harvey’s response to Louis’s brutal questioning of Donna, cruelly revealing to the court that Donna’s last boyfriend dumped her because she constantly chose obligations to Harvey over obligations to their relationship, demanding that she answer the question, “Do you love Harvey Specter?”
Harvey, a known hardass who, if the widow at the center of the Coastal Motors lawsuit was anyone to judge by, regularly dished out similar treatment to those unlucky enough to be testifying for the other team, couldn’t stand to see someone he cared about be subjected to the same treatment. Whether his feelings for Donna are or were romantic at one time was irrelevant because the fact that he had any kinds of obvious feelings toward her at all was damning enough in his eyes.
Yet ultimately, it was that burst of vulnerability that restored Harvey’s credibility with the partners in attendance of the mock trial. He became human, and therefore relatable and understandable. It also probably helped that, despite their heated exchange in the aftermath of Donna’s testimony, Jessica managed to get Louis to admit that despite his personal hatred for his rival, Louis believed that Harvey was a good lawyer who deserved his position and, most importantly (in the context of the Coastal Motors lawsuit) was not the kind of lawyer who would have willingly committed fraud to advance his case.
Louis’s honest testimony was enough to convince the partners not to cut Harvey lose and gave Jessica the confidence to pursue a trial against Tanner despite the unfavorable odds, but Mike took it upon himself to find a Plan B. After all, Jessica wouldn’t be able to coax a favorable portrait of her defendant from the prosecuting attorney during the real trial. Armed with his assertion that “People are who they are,” Mike dove into Travis Tanner’s old case files, certain that he would find something illegal SOMEWHERE. That’s just the kind of lawyer Tanner is.
When Hardman helped and later utilized whatever mystery transgression they had against Tanner to force a favorable settlement from the slimeball, Harvey reluctantly agreed to settle—one more sucker punch to add to our list, with Jessica counting on his tie-breaker vote to be in her favor, a stance that meant going to trial against Tanner. Hardman used the opportunity to finally make his move and cast doubt on Jessica’s capability to manage the firm. With that in mind, I’m not entirely convinced that he and Mike found ANYTHING on Tanner. After all, when Harvey asked Mike what they’d used against him, Mike claimed not to know. I wouldn’t put it past Hardman to have maybe paid Tanner off in order to force Harvey onto a side against Jessica, leaving her wide open for attack.
So it looks like we have to save Jessica now. And what of Donna? Her return to Pearson-Hardman seems no more likely than it did two weeks ago, possibly even less so considering the mortifying nature of Louis’ questioning. Would YOU want to go back to working with those people if you were Donna?
– Jacinda Barrett, Gabriel Macht’s real-life wife, guest starred as the jury expert brought in to advise Pearson-Hardman. They were fun to watch.
– Still no word on Rachel’s LSAT scores. Or whatever test she took. I don’t even remember anymore. It happened, right? I didn’t just, like, hallucinate an entire storyline?
– I’m glad that the lie detector test failure on Mike’s part got chalked up to nervousness. My first though as soon as Louis asked him where he went to law school was, “Oh god, not this again.” Granted, I’m sure it WILL come up again, eventually, since Mike’s ongoing fraud is one of the most important aspects of the show, and that’s fine. I just didn’t feel like dealing with it on top of Harvey being emo, Donna being exiled, and Hardman being a dick.
– You know, I felt bad for Louis, even after what he did to Donna. It was awful, but man, he was remorseful, telling Harvey, “What just happened to that beautiful woman in there— that’s on you.” In a way, you could argue that Louis’s ability to put aside his personal fondness for Donna to ruin her for what I guess could be argued as “the good of the company” illustrated Harvey’s point about caring being a weakness. However, Louis did care. So is the weakness still there? Let’s think like Harvey for a minute.
– I feel like there needs to be a line of Harvey Specter action figures. I mean, he’s always doing random exciting things, almost like a manlier Ken doll. We could have Sports Car Harvey with bonus Ferrari play set and Baseball All-Star Harvey with a little plastic high school MVP trophy. This week, we can add Boxing Champion Harvey Specter with special “sucker punching” action to the collection.