Synopsis: Harvey and Mike engage in round one while Louis has a fight of his own. Jessica continues to feel pressure from a love interest, Rachel has to admit she had an affair with a client, and Donna kicks everyone’s ass.
This week I think we’re introduced to a theme that is going to be the same throughout the first half of the season: Mike Ross growing up away from Harvey Specter. It is really an interesting shift because the first three seasons were all about his dependence on Harvey. After all, he’s the one who gave Mike a job he had no business working. He covered for him, mentored him (though I doubt you’d get Harvey to admit it) and ultimately took care of him. Now, Mike is making his own decisions. He’s got the girl, he’s got the job, and now he’s being pitted directly against Harvey and seems to be taking it in stride.
I find it interesting because Mike is so concerned about making sure he and Rachel keep work out of their relationship, yet he doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that work is going to come between him and Harvey at some point. Maybe that’s not the direction they’ll take it, but I feel like that would be a reasonable place to go with Mike and Harvey’s relationship. For so long it was all about Harvey covering for Mike and nurturing him, but now Mike has struck out on his own and doesn’t seem to think that it could come between his and Harvey’s friendship. Maybe it isn’t his focus, but I imagine if something were to happen that would cause a rift between them, both men would suffer for it because they care for each other.
We see a glimpse of that in this episode when Harvey backs Mike into a corner on the case and Mike begs for a way out. The other man doesn’t relent, and Mike manages to get out of the corner and moves on to fight another round, but I wonder how long they can keep it up between them. My prediction is that their relationship is going to explode at some point and they will not have seen it coming.
While Harvey and Mike are dealing with their issues, Louis is struggling himself. He had expected to get a big case and had dreams of moving into the corner office and being made a named partner. Instead, Jeff Malone gets hired out of nowhere, gets the corner office, and is given a case that Louis thought he would be working on alone. This puts Louis at odds with Jeff and he spends a good portion of the episode attempting to sabotage or get back at him, even though when they work together they work together well.
Like I said last week, Louis is an important balance in the legal drama world. He is unbelievable enough to make viewers shake their heads and laugh at his antics, but it isn’t so exaggerated that it takes away from the bigger tone of the piece. He’s not funny solely for the sake of comic relief, because that would make him a useless throwaway character and he is anything but. However, he can be used for comic relief when necessary and that’s exactly what they’ve done this week. Mike and Harvey are having their fight, and Louis is having a paralleled fight with Jeff that has ten times less risk and a lot more humor in it.
Louis has to deal with Jeff, and we get back to the Harvey and Mike storyline. At first it appeared that Mike had made a slam dunk, since he’d managed to school Harvey earlier in the judge’s chamber regarding the older lawyer breaking privilege and trying to get out of the consequences. Unfortunately, after an explosive meeting where Mike ends up yelling at Harvey’s client, Harvey goes behind his back and tries to win over the head of the union of the company his client wants to buy. He offers to pay into the union’s pension fund in exchange for the head of the union’s backing in his client’s plan to buy out the business that Mike is trying to hold onto it.
Harvey succeeds. Mike’s new boss finds out about it and gives him and ultimatum: figure out how to keep the business and get them their money, or find another job. The pressure is on and Mike eventually relents and goes to Harvey with his tail between his legs asking for a deal. What he doesn’t expect is for Harvey to straight out refuse him. Mike tried to use their relationship to his advantage but Harvey doesn’t play business that way, so his ex-associate was sent packing and was found sulking in his office by his assistant.
I fell in love with Mike’s assistant in this scene, though. She’s someone who understands the business and reminds Mike that he’s not a lawyer anymore, he’s an investment banker. He may have promised their client that he’d keep his business intact and provide an avenue for expansion, but in the world of money and making deals he might have to break his promise. She tells him to grow a pair and get out to fight another day.
I think the scene with Mike and his client shows a weird shift in character and I’m not exactly sure what to make of it. He tries to explain that he’s been backed into a corner and there is no other choice. The client accuses him of saying what he wanted to hear in order to gain his trust, only to screw him over in the end, but Mike stands up to him. Mike ends up calling him a naïve old man and then looks absolutely deflated. Eventually his client agrees to fund the pension himself in order to keep the business in his hands, but there is definitely a change from “people pleaser, everyone’s friend” Mike to “blunt, investment banker” Mike. On one hand it is nice to see him finally sticking up for himself and putting his best interests first. On the other, I’m worried that this path will eventually break him. He’s not Harvey Specter, but he sure is trying hard to act like he is.
We tip toward the end of the episode with the conclusion of round one and the forward movement into what Harvey refers to as round two. It will be fascinating to see what comes of their little spat and how Mike handles being in this position. I think it might break him, or else it will completely change him, and I’m not certain I like either of those outcomes.
The week ends with a talk between Donna and Jessica regarding Louis. Of course Louis still isn’t taking the Jeff Malone situation well, and Donna picks up on it. She approached Jessica and told her straight up, in typical Donna manner, that Louis has worked his ass off and deserves more appreciation than he is getting. See, even though Louis is the comedic relief he’s still a serious character who needs a lot of the same things everyone does: respect and recognition. Jessica relents and gives Louis the corner office, but something else comes out of the arrangement.
You see, I think Jessica didn’t give Jeff the corner office because she thought he deserved it. I think, in a way, she was trying to distance herself from them since their relationship had ended with his decision to work for her. Louis’ office is right next to her office, so now Jeff is in even closer proximity and thinks of it as an upgrade. Even though Jessica made her boundaries clear, Jeff continues to push into her space to try and convince her that they can have a personal and professional relationship. I’m not sure how I feel about Jeff and as a new character who refuses to allow Jessica to set the boundaries, he makes me uncomfortable. Time will tell, though.
Needless to say, with all of the relational strife that is building, we’re in for a wild ride this reason right out of the gate.