“Discovery” presents a momentary shift in villains with the appearance of Harvey’s longtime enemy Travis Tanner. This time around, Tanner is digging up one of Harvey’s old cases that he was on while still working at the DA’s office. Besides reopening the case with new evidence, Tanner is suing Harvey and the entire firm of Pearson Hardman for fraud. In an effort to resolve the lawsuit before Hardman even hears of it’s existence, Harvey must race against the clock in order to win the suit before Daniel finds out.
The episode opens with a short scene between Hardman and Louis in which Louis does his best to kiss some ass and get on better terms with Hardman. Unfortunately for him, Hardman is having none of it, and acts disinterested from the moment Louis walks into his office. To top it off, Hardman asks for Mike at the end of their conversation. Louis claims that Mike is tied up with a case and can’t help out, then leaves the office disappointed.
This was a brief scene, but important nonetheless. So far this season it’s been clear that Hardman has been courting Louis and claiming his loyalty, particularly after Jessica rejected Louis so many times. The gift of the voice recorder was a significant moment because it seemed to solidify Louis’ new loyalty to Hardman. But this interaction between Louis and Hardman at the top of “Discovery” implies that not everything with Hardman is sunshine and rainbows like Louis had thought. Though it isn’t really addressed in the rest of the episode, this dismissal by Hardman could push Louis away exactly the way Jessica pushed him away. And if that does happen, Louis could go back to looking for a new law firm.
Louis approaches Harvey about taking Mike for one of his cases, reminding him that he still has a lost bet that he needs to pay up for. This could be his payment. Harvey agrees to give Mike to him, on one condition—that he tell Donna that Harvey is the best closer in New York City. Louis can’t bring himself to stoop so low, so the deal is off. However, Harvey soon receives word that Travis Tanner is back in town and doing his best to make Harvey’s life a living hell. Tanner is reopening one of Harvey’s old cases from when he was at the DA’s office and is going one step further by additionally suing Harvey and the entire Pearson Hardman firm for fraud. Since this is going to be such a personal case for Harvey, he decides to give into Louis’ request and hand Mike off to him, unconditionally, for one case.
It’s interesting that Harvey’s immediate reaction is to keep Mike out of the Tanner issue. Obviously the case could dig up some parts of his past that he isn’t proud of, but Harvey usually trusts Mike. It wasn’t too long ago that Mike and Harvey sat down and talked about the Hardman/Jessica battle, and how Harvey knew he could trust Mike and vice versa. But on the Tanner case, Harvey decides that it’s best to keep Mike occupied with Louis’ case and go solo for once. Unsurprisingly, it’s not long before Harvey caves and asks Mike for his help.
Harvey meets up with Tanner, played with perfect sleaze by guest star Eric Close (“Without a Trace”). Tanner shows Harvey the new evidence he has that prompted the reopening of the case of Randal v. Coastal Motors—a letter from a CM employee that warned of a car defect, which ultimately led to the death of Randal when he crashed his car. Tanner accuses Harvey of burying this letter during the trial, which was settled in favor of Harvey’s client at the time, Coastal Motors. Harvey insists that he never saw the letter during the trial. To make sure that the letter never crossed his desk, Harvey asks Donna if she ever saw the note. Donna is certain that she never saw it, because if she had, Harvey would have seen it. Harvey assigns Donna the task of going back through every case file for Randal v. CM and looking for a copy of the letter there. If it isn’t there, they’ll know that Harvey never saw it and therefore cannot be found fraudulent in the case.
Meanwhile, Louis and Mike are proving to be a surprisingly good team together. Louis’ case is about a rival water company suing his client, Liquid Water, about their recent motto. The rival company insists that the motto unjustly claims that drinking Liquid Water will boost people’s IQs. Though Louis’ techniques and speeches take a little adjusting to—he tells Mike that they are at war, and that he has to refrain from having sex—Mike actually finds himself enjoying working with Louis. Mike’s skills and knowledge of the law quickly impresses Louis, and at the same time the way Louis handles himself in a deposition really impresses Mike. Together, they hit a home run with the Liquid Water case and have a great time doing it.
Seeing Mike and Louis getting along and actually working well together is so enjoyable to watch. “Discovery” is really the first episode in the history of the show where Mike and Louis aren’t fighting one another. They both are excellent lawyers with brilliant minds, and when the politics of the office are put aside, a really positive relationship emerges that’s fascinating to watch. It even gets to the point where Louis makes a failed attempt (which really makes you feel bad for the guy) to establish a similar connection with Mike that he has with Harvey, by quoting movies to him. The whole Louis/Mike buddy plot has a really great moment when Mike sits down with Louis and admits that he’s really enjoyed working with him. Louis explains how, up to this point, Harvey has been poisoning Mike against him. But Mike insists that it wasn’t Harvey that was poisoning the well but rather Louis himself by all of the cruel things he’s done to Mike while he’s been at the firm. Though it’s true that Louis certainly had a hand in shaping Mike’s opinion of him, it’s fair to say that Harvey at least helped poison that well. This blossoming relationship between Mike and Louis was really rewarding to watch, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to last, even to the end of this episode.
As Harvey tries to handle the Tanner fiasco without his right-hand man, things aren’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped. Jessica wants to tell Hardman about the fraud lawsuit against the entire firm, but Harvey insists that he can make it go away before Hardman even knows it happened. But when he goes to talk to the head of CM, they end up firing him and Pearson Hardman and instead giving the case to Tanner and his new firm. This surprise catches Harvey off-guard, and he’s forced to call Mike up and reluctantly allow him to do a little bit of work on the case for him.
One of the fun parts of “Discovery” was watching Mike try to balance his workload between Louis’ and Harvey’s cases. Helping out both Harvey and Louis really pulled the best out of Mike. Here he’s at his peak, kicking ass on both cases while Louis is none the wiser. It’s just a nice change of pace to see the Harvey/Louis rift put aside for once and instead have Mike work and get along with both parties.
While Donna and Mike continue to search for any trace of the damning letter in the Randal v. Coastal Motors case files, Harvey visits the woman who authored the letter in the first place. She claims to have never put anything in writing, and that the head of CM promised that if she kept quiet about the car manufacturing issue, he would fix the problem immediately. He did fix the issue on the new cars being made, but CM never recalled the old cars that still had the problem. As a result, Mr. Randal crashed his car which still had the problem, and died as a result of it. Armed with this knowledge, Harvey confronts the head of CM. He tells him that if he doesn’t settle with the Randal family, he will come forward about the unfixed defect in Coastal Motor cars.
Though Harvey may have solved the reopened Randal v. CM case, Tanner is still adamant about bringing him down. He tells Harvey that he knows all about his dirty cases while he was still at the DA’s office, and regardless of how the CM case turned out, he’s still coming for Harvey and Pearson Hardman. Jessica continues to insist that they tell Hardman, but Harvey still hesitates to do so. Meanwhile, Louis has begun to realize that something is going on and wants to know what’s up. When he pleads with Harvey to tell him, Harvey shuts him out as always.
It was really disappointing to see Harvey stiff-arm Louis yet again. Louis really seemed to be coming from a good place, where he honestly wanted to help Harvey out with whatever was going on. There was a real opportunity here to start patching up the Louis/Harvey relationship and have them work together for once. Especially in this time of need, where the entire firm is being threatened, a unified front would have been helpful. But instead, Harvey justs tells Louis to “go away,” and once again that bridge is set on fire. To make things worse, Harvey’s rejection goes one step further and essentially destroys the relationship between Mike and Louis that had been building over the course of the episode. I guess the writers decided that the Louis and Harvey heart-to-heart last episode should be a rare occurrence and that these two should remain enemies for now. It just couldn’t come at a more inopportune time.
“Discovery” concludes with a potentially pivotal scene between Harvey, Jessica and Hardman. While Harvey and Jessica discuss when they will finally break the news to Hardman, he bursts into the office and rips them both a new one. Though it’s not exactly clear how Hardman found out about the fraudulent lawsuit against the firm [Louis, possibly], he’s pissed that they were keeping it from him. After chewing them out, Hardman reiterates that now, more than ever, the three of them must join forces and fight together as one. Jessica and Harvey agree to do so, but you can tell that they still have their doubts. When Harvey asks Jessica if she trusts Hardman, she tells him, “At the moment, we don’t have a choice.”
Hopefully this threat against the whole Pearson Hardman firm will finally bring Harvey, Jessica and Hardman together. The introduction of Hardman as a new villain this season has worked thus far, but there’s also a serious possibility that the plot line will become stale midway through the season. It would be a nice change of pace to see the three of them not necessarily getting along, but putting aside their differences for the good of the firm. A break from the Harvey and Jessica v. Hardman story would be a breath of fresh air, and maybe that break has come in the from of Tanner’s threat against the firm. The next episode will show whether it’s possible to call a ceasefire [albeit temporarily] on the civil war raging within Pearson Hardman.
The cliffhanger of “Discovery” comes when Donna, who has been fruitlessly scouring the old Randal v. CM case files for any trace of that infamous letter, actually finds a copy of it. A stamp shows that the letter did in fact cross her desk, because her signature verifies that she saw it. The preview of next week’s episode shows Donna in deep trouble, trying to explain to Harvey why she never showed him the letter. I can’t wait for next week to find out what kind of consequences Donna’s actions will have for Harvey and for the entire Pearson Hardman firm.
Overall, “Discovery” was another solid episode for “Suits” in a second season that just continues to deliver week after week. There were some disappointments though, particularly in the failure of new relationships and the possibilities of burying some hatchets. The new development in the Mike/Louis relationship was exciting and fun to watch, so it was frustrating when it all collapsed so quickly by the end of the episode. Likewise, Harvey had a golden opportunity to finally let Louis in a little bit and begin to patch up their frayed relationship, but instead Harvey stuck to his old ways and shut him out. And also, what the heck was going on with that whole Rachel/Harold storyline? It was mildly amusing, but talk about filler. There really was no need to show this infatuation that Harold has with Rachel, and it felt like she was seriously cheated out of any kind of substantial scene this episode. It was almost as if the writers were saying, “Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about Rachel, she’s still here!” But other than those minor issues, “Discovery” was another winner for “Suits” during the show’s so-far excellent sophomore outing.