This week's episode of Suits was the strongest of the season so far. I was smiling through the whole thing. It wasn't flawless, of course, but I had a lot of fun seeing the flashbacks to ten years ago, and examining how our characters got to where they are today.
In the present-day plot, a few different things were going on. For one, Cameron Dennis has another witness for the trial, so it looks like the case is going forward again. Throughout the episode, there was a lot of back-and-forth about this. Mike discovered that Cameron was only bluffing, but then it turns out that he does get the witness, thanks to Stephen Huntley's meddling. I was a bit annoyed with this plot line honestly, because this case with Cameron is just a big game of back-and-forth at this point. Ava wasn't even in this episode, and it turned into nothing more than a continuation of the petty feud between Harvey and Cameron.
Louis was barely in the episode at all other than a few moments of comic relief. Also missing from the main plots this week was Rachel, who goes to visit Stanford to decide if she wants to go there. Mike is resistant to the idea, understandably, but he comes through in the end and says he'll support her no matter what. And then... he pulls out an acceptance letter of his own. To Harvard.
In an episode with a lot of twists and turns, this was one thing that I certainly did not see coming. It was particularly frustrating because we didn't get to see any of the buildup leading to this moment. We didn't even know Mike was applying to schools, and suddenly...
Ultimately, I think this is a fantastic twist for the show to take. However, I'm not sure how it's going to play out going forward. Does Harvey know? How is Mike supposed to go to Harvard without giving it away that he hasn't been there before? Won't he go to jail?
Also in the present day, Harvey finally gets to see his name on the wall. Some of my favorite parts of the episode involved seeing other people's reactions to this. Louis is just 100% done trying to keep up with everything changing around. Harvey tells Mike to meet him at the elevators just to show it off, and Mike is excited but worried at the same time, asking his boss what he plans to do about Jessica.
And then Donna. She's hurt that Harvey didn't already tell her about it, but as he points out, "I've never had to tell you a thing, you've always just known." This seems as good a quote as any to summarize Donna and Harvey's relationship. By the end of the episode, Harvey has admitted that Donna's relationship with Stephen bothers him, and Donna has told him off for taking so long to say it. But they seem to be back on the same page, which is nice to see.
So now we have to talk about the flashbacks. As you can see from the length of this review already, this episode crammed in a lot of material. It wasn't too messy or anything, but it certainly didn't give any of these moments a chance to breath. Harvey's flashback story line was tied very closely to the current case, and it also added extremely important new information about his relationship with Donna. Mike's story... well, it brought back some favorite old characters such as Trevor and Mike's grandmother, but the plot was just a rehash of a story we already knew. In all, there were a few unnecessary things in here, but it still gave the audience a chance to dig deeper into what makes Mike tick, and so that's always a good thing.
Let's start with Harvey, though. He's working at the DA's office, and even though he's supposed to go work for Jessica soon, Cameron offers him a promotion. Harvey is tempted to take it, but Jessica tells him that she's planning a coup on another law firm, and she wants to take Harvey with her. Harvey also finds out about Cameron's deceitful ways, as he tries to hide evidence to win a case. Harvey decides to quit, and he brings Donna with him to work at Pearson Hardman.
There was a lot of really juicy stuff going on in this portion of the episode. First of all, I thought it was so adorable to see little baby Harvey, offering high fives and accepting praise with cute little half-smiles. He reminded me so much of Mike that it suddenly made sense why Harvey is so fond of the kid these days. Cameron was the Harvey to Harvey's Mike: he refused to high five, and he continually reminded Harvey of where they stood on the totem pole. What gets to me about this is that despite all the wrong Cameron as done, Harvey still took a lot of his teaching methods from his old mentor. Luckily, he seems to show his affection for Mike more openly that Cameron ever did for Harvey.
Then there's Donna. There's something almost... disconcerting about watching Donna and Harvey flirt so openly, especially given the strict guidelines we know they now have on their relationship. Apparently, Donna's insistence that nothing has ever happened between her and Harvey was a lie. They did have one night together. And it involved whipped cream! When Harvey decides to bring Donna with him to Pearson Hardman, though, their romantic relationship must end immediately. Basically, Harvey chose Donna the Secretary over Donna the Love Interest, and it was almost painful to watch. However, Harvey's quote here was heart melting: "I don't wanna find out what kind of lawyer I'd be without you." Earlier in the episode, we saw the way that Donna kept Harvey's head on straight when he thought about breaking the law for Cameron. We see how good for him she is, but in a strange way, we also see how much she gives up for him.
Back in the present day, Donna and Harvey's conversation echoes back to their promises from ten years earlier. Donna says she won't apologize for who she is, and that she has to live her own life. This conversation was exactly what I've been wanting and missing all season. For the first time, perhaps in the entire show's history, Donna's utter devotion to Harvey is shown in terms of how difficult it truly is for her personally.
Okay, now onto Mike. Basically, this flashback told the story of how he got expelled from his school and how he lost his dreams of going to Harvard. It was a story we already knew: Trevor and Mike get caught selling test scores to the Dean's daughter, and he is expelled for it. As I mentioned before, there were some things in this portion of the episode that felt a bit unnecessary, such as Mike's feud with another college student which led to a game of poker. Mike lost, but only because the other guy cheated. Trevor was in some trouble because he borrowed money from a drug dealer, but the guy ended up being a total nerd, and he was impressed by Mike's bravery in talking back to him. They payed him back with money from the selling the test scores, but once that was done, Trevor was caught cheating. Mike turned himself in to save his friend, and the rest is history.
Probably the most important thing that this plot thread had to offer was a closer look at Mike's psychology. Trevor is a manipulative, nearly abusive presence in Mike's life. He makes Mike feel guilty for getting into Harvard, and uses that guilt to force Mike to sell the test scores. However, it is hard to judge Trevor entirely. He did seem genuinely proud of Mike getting into Harvard, and he was willing to take the fall for the cheating. Also, we learn from Mike's grandmother that Trevor's family offered to take Mike in when Mike's parents died, all because Trevor had begged and pleaded them. This was so sweet it melted my heart.
Alright, so that was a pretty long review. In some ways, it had to be, because this episode had a lot of stuff going on in it. But somehow, it managed to cram a lot in without it feeling too crowded. Huge steps were taken in terms of Donna's character, and now that Jessica knows about Harvey's secret deal with Darby, things will probably be heating up big time in the coming weeks. As I said, there were a few missteps, such as the repetitive back-and-forth with Cameron and some time-wasting in Mike's flashbacks. But these small problems were not enough to stop it from being a stellar episode.