The aptly titled “High Noon” was a classic shootout of an episode that took place at the Pearson Hardman Corral, where a victor would finally be named in the battle that began at the start of the season. After the votes were tallied up, Daniel Hardman was declared the winner, but of course that was just the tip of the iceberg in this mid-season finale. Fans knew that tonight’s episode was going to be big, but how many of them predicted such a drastic 180 between the beginning and the end? It was amazing how the “High Noon” managed to tie (almost) everything up so neatly and do it so quickly!
The first few moments of the episode show the partners casting their votes in the ultimate showdown between Jessica and Daniel. As expected, Louis is seen struggling over which box to check on his ballot. But ultimately he chooses Hardman, because when Jessica finishes the count, she announces that Harvey will be the new man in charge. Harvey’s initial reaction is to immediately jump ship, but Jessica talks him away from the ledge, explaining that the best move would be to swallow their pride and wait for Hardman to screw up. Separately from the drama at the firm, Mike’s struggles with his grandmother’s passing lead him to buy weed from a dealer on the street.
It was excellent that Hardman won the vote and that Harvey and his compatriots had to deal with such a tough loss. It was very interesting to see how Harvey handled the news and how he almost immediately he went into panic mode, talking about bailing on the firm or taking a vacation for a year until they can find a new firm to work at. The loss also gave Mike the opportunity to (loudly) lecture Harvey and call him out on his need to always win every battle he faces. Harvey definitely needed to hear the words, “You lost, it’s over,” and “Sometimes you can’t win.” Also, since the “High Noon” began with this big loss, it grabs the viewers and makes them wonder, “how the hell will they get out of this one?”
After Mike flips out on Harvey in the office, Harvey sends him home for the day. When he gets home, Mike breaks out the weed he just bought and smokes for the first time in a long while. The next morning, Rachel stops by his apartment to help him get ready for his grandmother’s funeral. She finds the pot, and Mike pretends to flush the stash down the toilet. At his grandmother’s funeral, Mike sees his old high school girlfriend, Tess. Tess and Rachel gang up on Mike and eventually convince him to speak at the funeral. After the funeral, Mike and Tess start talking about the past, one thing leads to another, and they end up kissing. But when Tess confesses that she’s married, Mike angrily tells her to get out.
As soon as it was revealed that Tess was one of Mike’s ex-girlfriends, it was easy to smell the blood in the water. Especially after last week’s teaser showed Mike and Rachel kiss, it felt rather obvious that Tess was going to cause problems for their relationship. Obviously the writers have to give Mike and Rachel time and can’t put them together as quickly as the 2nd season, but they could’ve done better than Tess. And the fact that she’s married just sucks even more. Bringing back Jenny would have been a better route to go, especially since she has much more chemistry with Mike than Tess does.
Back at the office, Harvey is really feeling Mike’s absence. He and Donna are being forced to do the work that Mike can usually do in half the time. Meanwhile, Louis isn’t making things easier for them at all. He takes every opportunity to gloat about Hardman’s (and his) win and even has the balls to tell Harvey how he likes his coffee. Still, when Louis catches Donna by herself, he takes a minute to apologize that she “got caught in the crossfire” and promises her that there will always be a place for her at Pearson Hardman. Donna doesn’t react too kindly to that, accusing Louis of betraying his team by voting for Hardman and taking his side in all of this.
Even though Team Harvey continues to act betrayed by Louis’ decision to choose Hardman, I still can’t see where they’re coming from. None of them ever treated Louis with the respect and recognition that Hardman has recently (even if it is fake), so of course he’s going to side with Daniel. They all keep acting like Louis was a part of their little family and that by doing this he’s a traitor, but when did they ever allow Louis into the group? He was always on the outside, always wondering what was going on behind the scenes, never being clued in on any of the drama or politics at the firm. Well, let this be a lesson to them – they may have lost Louis for good at this point, and if they have, it’s their own damn fault.
In a surprising turn of events, Harvey pays Mike a visit at his apartment and, rather than scolding him for being high, proceeds to smoke weed with him. After Harvey gets completely baked, he starts to open up to Mike about this family, revealing that his mom was a groupie of his dad’s band and that he caught his mother cheating on his father when he was just 16 years old. Harvey explains that the point of his story is that, despite being surrounded by family as a kid, he knows what it’s like to feel alone like Mike does now.
For a show that is constantly throwing curveballs, it shouldn’t have been shocking when Harvey walked into Mike’s apartment and started smoking his weed. But it was still rather surprising because it was so against Harvey’s character. He’s not afraid to do things that could put his job in jeopardy for a good reason, and failing a drug test is certainly not a good reason to get fired. This careless act really shows how poorly Harvey is dealing with his loss to Hardman and underlines his overall attitude of simply getting the hell out of dodge as soon as possible.
After the brief heart-to-heart, the weed gets the better of Mike and Harvey, and they start thinking of ways to prank Hardman. Eventually they settle on peeing in his office. Louis is in the midst of trying to hack into Harvey’s computer when they show up and find him in the office. Harvey gets physical with Louis but Mike stops him before it can escalate into something much more serious. After Louis leaves, Mike and Harvey’s pot-riddled minds have an epiphany: they somehow stumble upon the possibility that Hardman planted the Coastal Motors memo and therefore setup the whole debacle as a way for him to reclaim his position at the firm.
The next day, Harvey and Mike set out to find the evidence that will back up their theory about Hardman’s scheme to reclaim the throne. Mike rifles through some filing cabinets and comes up with just what he was looking for, prompting him to plant a celebratory kiss on Rachel. But after the embrace, Rachel pulls away and explains that his current emotional state is causing him to make the wrong decisions.
Meanwhile, Harvey meets up with Travis Tanner at the boxing club to press him on whether or not he was in cahoots with Hardman from the start. Harvey challenges Tanner to a bout in the ring – if Harvey wins Tanner has to talk. After a fairly even match, Harvey gets the upper hand and Tanner agrees to answer one question only. Harvey asks why he settled the fraud case against him and the firm, to which Tanner responds, “The memo was a fraud.” Since Tanner will obviously refuse to testify to this in court or sign an affidavit, Mike approaches Lawrence Kemp and asks him to sign an affidavit of his own. The affidavit would confirm that Kemp told Hardman about the hood problem, and that Hardman advised him to bury the issue. Unfortunately, Kemp adamantly refuses Mike’s request.
This whole series of events was a spectacle to behold. Sure, it seems unlikely that Mike and Harvey would really be in a state of mind capable of having such an important epiphany. But once they had it, it was fascinating to watch them put all the puzzle pieces together and gradually save what had appeared to be a sinking ship. In the matter of five or ten minutes, Harvey and Mike’s dismal future at the firm did a complete 180-degree turn. Each confirmation of their suspicion (Mike finding what he was looking for, Tanner essentially admitting Hardman’s involvement) was a mini victory that must have had many “Suits” fans cheering at their TV sets. Plus as an added bonus, this new theory would vindicate Donna if it did indeed turn out to be true.
However, Louis throws a wrench into Mike and Harvey’s plans that threatens to cut their mission short. He noticed that Harvey reeked of pot the other night when he grabbed him, so his next move is to advise Hardman to insist that Harvey take a drug test. Hardman agrees to do so, and Louis demands a urine sample from Harvey for his drug test. Harvey refuses, giving Hardman grounds to fire him from the firm. But before he can do that, Harvey reminds Daniel that there needs to be a review in which he can make his case in front of the partners.
As Harvey’s review begins, Hardman explains to the other partners that his refusal to take the drug test is reasonable grounds for his dismissal from the firm. Harvey admits to smoking pot, but in the same breath he launches into the case that he’s put together against Hardman. He explains to the other partners that Daniel worked with Tanner to stage the entire fraud case in order to win back his position of authority at Pearson Hardman. Daniel balks at the notion and points out that Harvey has no evidence, but in the knick of time, Mike swoops in and provides the signed affidavit needed to persuade everyone. Then the partners take two votes: one to turn down the motion to fire Harvey, and one to uphold the motion to fire Daniel Hardman. After the meeting, Mike admits that Kemp refused to sign the affidavit and that he actually signed his own name on it. Luckily, nobody called his bluff.
Talk about a buzzer beater! Harvey and Mike manage to unseat Hardman basically at the last second, during the review called to vote on whether or not to fire Harvey. It couldn’t have been a closer call. What a great way for the writers to make every second count and really crank up the tension in the back half of the episode. Like so many of “Suits” best episodes, “High Noon” was a roller coaster of twists and turns and ups and downs. It was as if Team Hardman and Team Harvey were neck-and-neck in the final moments of a race. And when we got to the finish, it was pretty remarkable where things ended up. But as fitting of an analogy as a race is, this mid-season finale was also the classic game of chess that we’ve grown to expect from the main players at Pearson Hardman.
In the final minutes of “High Noon,” Jessica Pearson gladly gives Hardman the boot. But before he leaves, Daniel completes his villainous image by warning her that, “this isn’t the last page of the story.” Maybe it’s only a matter of time before Hardman returns once again, but let’s all hope that that time is much further down the road. After Daniel’s departure, the episode wraps up with one of the show’s most predictable story-lines yet. As expected, Mike and Tess sleep together and Rachel shows up at his apartment, ready to give Mike the green light on their relationship, when she sees Tess walking around half-naked in the background. Clearly last week’s tease of the Mike / Rachel kiss was a setup, because these two won’t be getting together anytime soon.
Aside from the incredibly obvious outcome with Mike and Rachel, “High Noon” was a drama-packed episode that positively lived up to its name. I would expect nothing less from the writers, in an episode in which Hardman is finally dispatched from Pearson Hardman. Obviously I was expecting a resolution to the vote between Jessica and Daniel, but I never expected that in the same episode, Team Harvey would find a way to also kick Hardman out for good. I’d figured that we were going to have to deal with the “Suits” villain for at least the rest of the season. I’m relieved that we don’t. Basically, “High Noon” embodied the fast-paced, drama-laced chess game that fans of the show have come to expect every week. Other than Mike’s weak and foreseeable romantic storyline, this mid-season finale was everything that viewers could’ve hoped for.