The good in this episode: Harvey and Mike make what seem like real, significant life/career change decisions, and there’s a nice cliffhanger of an ending for the summer finale. The bad: a shitload of unconvincing flashbacks that felt more time filling than illuminating.
A talented child actor who quite resembles Patrick J. Adams plays Mike as a child of about 11, and comes off as both bright and sensitive in flashback scenes. In one, Grammy (who is not made up to look much younger than the last time we saw her, in the recent present) tells him his parents have died in a car accident. In another, a Catholic priest named Father Walker tries to comfort him, but young Mike is already on the road to becoming a pot-smoking, jaded dropout who has lost faith in God, saints and stupid shit like rules.
More flashbacks, to Mike’s subsequent high school days, feature Patrick J. Adams in a horrible wig that makes him look not like a teenager, but like a 34 year old in a horrible wig. Horrible wig Mike clashes with Grammy over his desire to throw away the children’s books that his mother used to read to him, and with Father Walker about some stolen collection box money and an F Mike received on a history paper at the Catholic school he attends. Though not for much longer. He’s going to drop out and go to – oh no, not that! – a public school.
In the present day, Mike visits Father Walker to confess to his fraud sins and to ask for advice. Father Walker challenges Mike’s assertion that he has become a good guy overall, and pushes him to admit he’s afraid of ruining Rachel’s life if he marries her, and afraid of losing her if he quits being a fake lawyer.
Mike returns the stolen collection box money, which he never spent, but only took years ago to protest against the empty solace and utter meaninglessness of religion (or something). To prove the opposite (or something), Father Walker shows him the bookcases Grammy bought for the church playroom when she repaid the stolen money without ever telling Mike. And guess what’s in the bookcases! Yup, Mike’s old children’s books. Which Father Walker thinks means Mike has gotta have faith (like his namesake George Michael) and not worry that he will lose Rachel.
Having seen the light, or maybe a light, Mike, in a subtle but effective all-the-feels scene, hands in his resignation to Harvey, who hugs him(!!!) and lets him go, for reasons I’ll get to in a moment. Mike tells Rachel his decision, and she’s cool with it, as Father Walker predicted – she might even be happy/excited about this development. That is, until Mike, while walking out of the office with a standard issue archive box of sad belongings, is arrested by a couple of plainclothes guys, for “conspiracy to commit fraud.” That wording begs the question of whom he conspired with, and who else is being charged. And is the arrest really about his fake lawyering, as showrunner Aaron Korsh, in the post-finale interviews he gave, tried to make us believe? Or is it about some other dirty tricks Mike engaged in while being a fake lawyer?
Dr. Paula has booked a full day with Harvey, at his request, so he can talk about whether he should resign from Pearson Specter Litt like Forstman wants him to. This discussion leads to flashbacks from when Harvey was ten or fifteen years younger – and working for the D.A.’s office, maybe?
I’ll put aside for a moment that Harvey in his late twenties does not look any younger than present day 43-year-old Harvey, and that the ‘aged’ look on the actress who plays his mother consists mainly of some grey streaks in her hair and some crudely drawn lines on her face. Are we also supposed to believe that a) either every time Harvey’s mom has an affair, Harvey catches her doing it, OR that she is a serial adulterer who has been having affairs for years; b) her trysts repeatedly take place in her own home in the afternoons; and c) Harvey’s dad, a jazz musician turned car mechanic, never knew about them? Because that’s an awful lot of disbelief to suspend.
We see in flashback that it was Harvey who told his dad about the affairs (and thus ended the marriage), during an unfriendly father-son sparring session, and Harvey has mixed feelings about the incident. His lying, cheating mom deserved to be outed, he appears to think, but he might regret having broken up the family – and damaged his younger brother’s psyche – in the process. As for quitting his job in the present, he has two reasons not to: one because he is not the type of guy to “lay down” when attacked, and two, because he doesn’t want to break up his Pearson Specter Litt family. Except for the Litt part, maybe.
When Dr. Paula opines that the Forstman dilemma isn’t about laying down, and that if Harvey quit, he wouldn’t be breaking up the law firm family, he would be saving it, Harvey runs off to resign and get Forstman to stop funding Hardman’s evil plan to take over the law firm.
Meanwhile, back at the office
Jack gives Jessica advance notice of the no confidence (in Jessica) vote he is calling for from the partners that evening. When Jessica can’t find Harvey (who is with Dr. Paula), she commands Louis once more to find out what Hardman has on Jack.
Louis does not find out, but, ever subtle, he threatens to kill Hardman. Hardman nullifies the threat by having his secretary record Louis making it, then says he will hostilely take over Esther’s company if Louis does not vote against Jessica.
Jessica forgives Louis for sticking up for his sister when she finds out, tells him they will be always be partners, and throws a paperweight around in her office to demonstrate her frustration. Her own flashbacks have revealed that her present day hair and wardrobe are WAY better than they used to be, and that she was once kind of secretly married to a nice-seeming, professional-seeming black man who divorced her because she was overly devoted to her career. The law firm matters to her, you see, because she’s sacrificed having a love life for it, and because it’s her family. Except for her sister.
Donna goes searching for Harvey at Jessica’s request. She strolls into Dr. Paula’s home office after Harvey has left, and a slightly awkward encounter ensues. Dr. Paula behaves professionally and shares no confidences of Harvey’s, but Donna is pretty sure she knows what the doctor is thinking, and it’s that Donna is amazing. Sure Donna, whatever you say.
Harvey presents the partners’ meeting with a copy of a termination letter Forstman has sent to Hardman. The partners, led by Louis, vote in favor of retaining Jessica as managing partner. Afterwards, Harvey tells Jessica he is stepping down and that Mike has quit. She is saddened by both these developments, but especially by Harvey’s departure.
But will Harvey’s resignation stick now that Mike has been arrested? What’s the story behind the charges against Mike? Is the wedding now off? What does Hardman have on Jack Soloff, and do we care? Find out the answers to some or all of these questions in early 2016, when the back 6 episodes of season 5 will air in North America, and I’ll return to recap them.