This episode shifts focus from Harvey’s demise. Yes it is still imminent, perhaps, but his tumble is more aggressive now, because it is pushed on by the returning devil Daniel Hardman. However, his fall isn’t driven by his psychological fragility anymore. The stakes have been risen. And now, Harvey isn’t the only one threatened. Jessica is too.
Soloff is Hardman’s puppet – whether voluntarily or coerced is unclear but nonetheless he is effective. And through the entire season so far he has planted seeds that are now coming to fruition. He has painted Harvey as a character who only cares about money (which is in fact true). He has painted Jessica as a character who only cares about Harvey (which is perhaps true – and best illustrated by how poorly she treats Louis in contrast). And, with Hardman’s help, he has brought financial opportunities that will make everyone else rich, but Jessica and Harvey’s distrust would make them unwilling to accept. He has effectively segregated, alienated, and belittled the authority and respect of Harvey and Jessica. All Jessica can do is to say with her usual vehemence that Hardman “will not step foot into the firm”. In the very next scene, Hardman walks right through the firm, posturing, and declaring that he is now able to steal all of Pearson Specter Litt’s clients one by one and there’s nothing Jessica and Harvey can do about it until fear drives all the other partners to reinstate him as Managing Director.
And the reason why this is the best episode of the season so far is that this is true. The entire episode is the team futilely trying to one-up Hardman’s mystery buyer. But it turns out that they cannot, because Hardman’s mystery buyer is not driven by any commercial interest. He has infinitely deep pockets and he is driven by only one motive – spite for Harvey. This mystery buyer is Forsman.
Therefore, it seems the only way to stop Hardman is if Harvey steps down. And if Harvey doesn’t, Hardman wins, takes over the firm, and Jessica steps down.
Mike too is under fire. As seen in the previous episode, his dark secret has reared its head again. But it is not same old same old, because he is no longer the victim of his secret. Rachel is. This point was established in the previous episode and was driven home here. She can’t have the wedding that she always wanted because it risks making Mike’s secret public. And she has to lie unconvincingly to her overly perceptive and caring mother (the parent to which she is closest to). In a touching, emotive, but somewhat sappy scene, Rachel opines that she would forego all her dreams and her relationship with her mother to be with Mike forever. That is sweet, but that isn’t the point, as this episode expertly shows.
It is now clear that Mike is an utterly selfish character. All he has to do is to quit and he is scott free and he and Rachel can live happily ever after. His ex girlfriend was perhaps too morbid when she suggested his only out was to split up from Rachel. Trevor (remember him – last seen in Season 2 – and in flashbacks in 3) returns in a brilliant cameo reminding Mike that he is still living as a criminal and all he has to do is to quit, before it becomes too much. It is very near so. His secret has already become a shaft in Rachel’s relationship with her mother (and has ruined her somewhat puerile dreams of a Disney-esque wedding). However, Mike scoffs at Trevor’s suggestion. Why? Previous seasons established that perhaps it is the only thing he is good at (at least as opposed to investment banking, although that is very hard to believe), and that he craves Harvey too much. Their bromance is way too strong. However in the final face off with Trevor, one more reason is perhaps subtly suggested. It is suggested through omission, through the fact that Mike gives no reasons to back up his scoffing away Trevor’s suggestion, but nonetheless remains stoic. Pride. Mike can’t quit because he doesn’t quit. He is too good to quit. He will not be beaten by some secret. He is good enough to succeed in living his lie. He is prideful.
And that is the point of this episode. The true trade off of Mike’s secret isn’t Rachel’s dreams, family, and happiness. Rather the trade off is his job at Pearson Specter Litt. If Mike quits, Rachel can have everything she wants perhaps. And he will have her. And they will live happily ever after. But Mike’s pride won’t let him. He is prideful. Just for a second, I was left hoping his fall would be biblical.
The next episode is the summer finale, and the gravity couldn’t be greater. Who would be left standing Harvey, Jessica, or Mike? And you know what’s great – we can’t imagine a way all three would.
This is the penultimate episode before the mid-season break. Keep track of when the next episodes will be airing.