Suits left us with a near-perfect season finale. It’s a difficult act to follow up a great episode – but damned if this show doesn’t come back with an equally fantastic second-season premiere.
As we rejoin Mike, he’s nervous as hell because he’s been invited to dinner by Jessica. He’s convinced that means she knows his secret, until Harvey tells him that each of the last five senior partners was taken to dinner by Jessica when they were first-year associates. “We can discuss the prom at recess,” Harvey adds, more interested in a pending merger he’s working on.
Flash-forward: Mike’s at dinner with Jessica, who wants to know about him. She asks him what Harvard’s like, which we know that he doesn’t know. Instead, he tells her about his childhood, and how he realized school “was like a joke.” He says that even at the mighty Harvard, he wasn’t like the other kids. Nice save, Mike! But why did he get into the law? Well, that’s not so fun. We see him freeze for a moment before he tells Jessica how his parents were killed in a car accident on their way home from dinner when he was eleven. He visibly struggles with recounting how helpless he felt. “I didn’t want to feel that way ever again,” he says, and we know that’s not a lie.
“Harvey was right,” she replies, before leaving him with the dinner bill. Jessica returns to the office, where Harvey still is. He wants to know why she didn’t tell him that she was taking Mike to dinner – and she informs him about Trevor’s allegation. She had him checked out, and he came back “squeaky clean,” except for that there’s no record of him doing any undergraduate work prior to Harvard. Whoops. “I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, that you didn’t know,” she tells Harvey. “What you’re going to do is fire that goddamn kid.”
The next day, Donna’s interest is piqued when Harvey uses “please,” “do me a favor” and “thank you” in the same sentence. She proceeds to pick up on at least three different cues that something is wrong with him. There’s a reference to Harvey’s brother and his mother (can we get Gabriel Macht’s brother Jesse to show up now?) before Donna deduces that Mike’s secret is out. “Does he know?” she asks Harvey, and we realize that Mike has no clue. He’s telling Rachel about his dinner with Jessica, as Harvey is telling Donna he has to fire Mike or Jessica will.
A hyperactive Mike walks into the office and tells Harvey what’s holding up the Swinton merger: a former employee named Myra Harrison claiming the company stole one of her ideas for someone else’s book. We don’t see or hear what happens, but a dazed Mike leaves Harvey’s office a minute later. Donna walks back in to ask what happened, and then realizes Harvey couldn’t fire Mike. “You cried and you let him stay,” she says, and ribs him for his emotional moment. He turns it back on her, pointing out that she wasn’t listening in on the conversation like usual. What’s he going to do next? Buy them some time. And why was Mike so out of it? Harvey told Mike that he was proud of him.
Empowered, Mike confronts Myra Harrison and tries to bully her into giving up her case – letting slip that she’s holding up the merger in the process. This backfires because she in turn gives him an emotional spiel about being betrayed by her boss that makes Mike go back to his vulnerable self. “I just want to be paid for my idea,” she tells him, which sounds simple enough.
Harvey walks into Louis’s office, where he’s compiling a redundancy list for the Swinton merger. He asks Louis to lay off Mike for awhile, letting him know about Jessica’s “new interest” in him. It’s another classic ‘Harvey messes with Louis’ moment, down to Harvey’s oh so perfect faux-surprised facial expression and Louis stewing over it after Harvey’s gone.
Speaking of gone, Jenny confronts Mike outside the firm about him and Rachel. They argue over it, and then she breaks things off with him, adding that Trevor told her about the kiss between Rachel and Mike, and that he also let her know he was going to tell Jessica everything. Bet you’re wishing you’d followed Harvey’s advice and really cut Trevor out of your life, aren’t you, Mike? He walks back into the office once again convinced he’s a dead man…only to be confronted by Louis in the bathroom. Louis is pawning off the redundancy list on Mike because he can.
In the ladies’ room, Donna and Rachel discuss Rachel’s kiss with Mike, and why Mike hasn’t called Rachel back after three days. Donna tells Rachel either Mike didn’t get the message or he doesn’t feel the same way that Rachel does. “He made his choice,” Rachel concludes.
A still-flustered Mike walks into Harvey’s office and confronts him about knowing that Jessica knew about his secret. Harvey makes a joke about them going to Mexico and tells Mike to calm down. “She told me to fire you,” he adds, and distracts Mike by asking why he hasn’t closed the merger. That’s when Donna walks in and tells Harvey that Alicia Hardman, Daniel Hardman’s wife, has just passed away. This is big news, big enough to pull Harvey away from his conversation with Mike.
Elsewhere, Louis tells Jessica he pawned off the list on Mike, which lets Jessica know that Harvey never fired Mike. Jessica then comes looking for Harvey, pointing out that he got Louis to work with Mike so that if Mike left abruptly, there would be too many questions. An unruffled Harvey moves past that and tells her about Alicia Hardman’s death, which means that they no longer have leverage on Daniel Hardman to keep him away from the firm they forced him out of five years ago. Seems they used Daniel’s affair to get him out of the picture. “That asshole’s coming back, and he’s not coming back because he wants to be number two,” he tells her.
The two of them go to Alicia Hardman’s funeral, where Harvey makes a Highlander reference (“A lot of people die in it, seems appropriate”). He refers to Hardman as “a lying snake in the grass” while Louis rants about how he never liked working for Hardman. After the service, Harvey and Jessica talk with Hardman (David Costabile), who wants them to believe he’s a changed guy – not the kind of man who’d throw a phone at Jessica’s head anymore. Naturally, they’re too cynical and experienced to accept this. “He’s coming for us,” Jessica tells Harvey, who insists that he can stop Hardman – and brokers a deal with her: if he keeps Hardman out of the picture, Mike can stay with the firm.
Meanwhile, Mike brokers a $30,000 settlement for Myra, but she turns it down because she feels betrayed. This doesn’t make Harvey happy, and he correctly deduces that Mike and his bleeding heart let slip more than he should have. “I’m fighting for your job and you’re going to screw up this merger?” he questions, which only makes Mike wonder if he’s really fighting for him. “You and I both know you were going to fire me the other day,” Mike retorts, and Harvey retorts that even if he was, he didn’t. “You’re not getting fired on my watch,” he promises Mike, who promptly gets blown off by Rachel and has no idea what he did.
This is enough to get Mike to go visit his grandmother. Their conversation gives him an idea as to how to settle his case: he realizes that Myra’s story is probably similar to at least one or two others, unintentionally, and he can use that as leverage. While he goes to do that, Harvey and his Aston Martin pay a visit to the Hardman house, where he has an awkward meeting with Hardman’s daughter Sarah before a confrontation with her father. Hardman easily deduces why he’s there, and it all comes out: Hardman was cheating on his wife and embezzling, and if he doesn’t stay where he is, Harvey’s going to tell everything to Sarah and wreck his family. It’s a cold-blooded thing and it’s also so very Harvey Specter.
Mike sets up a meeting between Myra and her former boss. He gets the boss to admit that she stole Myra’s idea by pointing out that he represents the company and not her, and can therefore get her into a whole lot of trouble if she doesn’t own up. But when Myra pushes for public credit, Mike produces three other books in the company’s library and points out that he can argue her pitch is similar to any one of them. “I suggest you sign that deal and go home,” he tells her, threatening a countersuit that forces her to capitulate. His parting words? “Don’t ever threaten me or my firm again.” It’s his Harvey moment.
All seems well, until they get back to the office and Harvey realizes that Hardman hasn’t been put in his place: he’s come back, and come totally clean to the firm and to his daughter, so that there’s no leverage to be had against him. He sends Mike home before Jessica can fire him, being that he didn’t hold up his end of their deal. Mike ends up confronting Trevor, warning him that he can mess with Trevor’s life just as much as Trevor tried to mess with his.
Meanwhile, Harvey has Jessica to answer to. He says that he won’t fire Mike, and that Jessica won’t do it because he knew all along that Mike didn’t have a law degree, and that if Mike is fired, he’s going with him. A stunned Jessica tells him he’s done, but Harvey points out that she needs him in the battle against Hardman. Their relationship is going to be a little difficult for awhile, and understandably so.
Mike finally hears Jessica’s voice mail before he’s called into Harvey’s office to find Jessica there. “Am I fired?” he asks. She tells him that she wants to know everything there is to know, starting with how he beat Harvey in his interview. She’s about to see exactly what Mike Ross and his stupendous memory can do.
Many of the things I love about this premiere are the same things that made me fall in love with Suits in general. Before I get to those, though, I must humbly issue a mea culpa: I said after “Dogfight” that the cliffhanger ending was a poor choice and that I didn’t see any resolution to it that didn’t somehow shortchange the show. I was wrong. While I still probably wouldn’t have gone with a cliffhanger, this episode resolved it as well as it possibly could have – yes, Jessica knows and there are definitely consequences, but the show hasn’t drastically changed, either. I didn’t think such a thing was possible, but I applaud Aaron Korsh for accomplishing that.
Now, onto many things that work with this particular episode: firstly, darned but these are still some of the best actors working today. They’re still doing little things that make their performances even better. For example, look at how well Patrick J. Adams delivers Mike’s backstory in his dinner scene with Jessica. On the page, that’s paragraphs of cut and dried dialogue; it could easily come off flat. Yet because we can see the struggle on his face, hear the hesitation in his delivery, it doesn’t matter what he says so much as how he says it. Then there’s Gabriel Macht, who is still a force in any scene he walks into. I’m pretty sure Harvey Specter could read the phone book and it would still come off somehow intimidating.
All these characters feel like they haven’t missed a beat from where we left them months ago. We’re still seeing Harvey having the occasional vulnerable moment not unlike Mike, and Mike getting tougher not unlike Harvey – even if it was more obvious than usual this time around, these characters continue to learn from each other and evolve because of that. We’re still seeing Jessica and Harvey’s complex professional relationship – how many other shows might have had her excuse his behavior in the end, rather than hold him accountable for it? There’s also the relationship between Harvey and Donna, with its great rapport and the years of history between them. The episode does a wonderful job of making us feel like we haven’t missed much at all – letting us be a part of what’s happening rather than letting it occur off-screen.
And this season premiere does exactly what I want every season premiere to do: make me interested in the rest of the episodes. Show me that the series has an idea of where it’s headed and why I should care where it’s going. In the space of this one episode, I got a sense of the storylines that are ahead, and I’m already somewhat invested in them. I already kind of dislike Daniel Hardman and want to see Harvey stick it to him. I want to see more of Harvey and Jessica’s relationship as they work together to try and protect the firm. I’m honestly intrigued by what’s been set up here. I feel like we’ve moved comfortably past the “origin story” that was season one and this is a distinctive new chapter I’m just now cracking into.
This, for me, is what television is all about: an ongoing story with compelling characters that I don’t want to let go of. It’s just one episode, but based on this, season two of Suits stands to be just as entertaining and captivating as the first.
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.