Donna is at the center of “Break Point,” an episode that has serious consequences for her and the firm.

[rating:4.5/5]

“Break Point” was the perfect title for this week’s episode of “Suits,” in which Mike takes on a tennis player’s lawsuit while tension reaches a breaking point amidst the turmoil brought on by Travis Tanner’s case against Pearson Hardman.  Tonight we finally got to see how things would play out after Donna discovered that the infamous document had in fact crossed her desk after all.  With “Break Point,” the writing on “Suits” inched closer to perfection by taking the situation in an unexpected direction that had serious consequences for Pearson Hardman and the characters we’ve come to love.  In keeping with the tennis metaphor, “Break Point” was, simply put—game, set, match.

Instead of getting right into the juicy stuff, “Break Point” begins by setting up the latest case to come across Harvey’s desk.  A rising tennis star, Marco, is attempting to file for emancipation from his father, who forbids him from going pro at the young age of sixteen.  Marco insists that he can’t wait until he turns eighteen and that the only way for his career to go forward is for him to go pro now.  Honestly, this was one of the weakest cases so far on “Suits.” The idea that an athlete with such great promise couldn’t just wait two years is absurd, and the added parental abuse aspect of the case just felt like a failed attempt to make it more interesting.  However, this lame emancipation lawsuit ends up having the redeeming quality of being Mike’s first shot at the big leagues later in the episode.

Finally the episode gets back to Donna, who is staring down the dreaded document as she stands by the company shredder.  But her internal debate is interrupted when Mike bursts into the room and surprises her.  Now flustered, Donna explains to Mike that she was going to shred in peace, but now she’s changed her mind.  As she leaves, Mike seems to notice that something strange is going on.

This stamp, with Donna’s signature, confirms that the fraudulent document did reach her desk

Meanwhile, Harvey, Jessica, and Hardman meet with an outside council lawyer, Allison, about Tanner’s suit against the firm. Allison was brought in by Hardman, so naturally Harvey is adamant against her helping with the case.  When Harvey is short with Allison, Daniel apologizes and insists that Harvey’s problem is not with her, but with him.  After Daniel leaves, Jessica asks Harvey to leave so that she can have a moment with Allison.  After interrogating Allison, Jessica decides to hire her to work on the Tanner case.

Jessica’s move to hire Allison is an interesting one because it’s so uncharacteristic of her to take Hardman’s side.  The power struggle between them is still raging on stronger than ever (as witnessed in a scene later in this episode), so one would think that she’d be inclined to agree with Harvey. But maybe Allison’s comment about keeping Harvey on a leash somehow resonated with Jessica, who has come to realize how Harvey can equally be an asset and a liability to the firm. However, her demeanor with Allison wasn’t exactly cordial, as if to say “We’ll do it your way for now, but I’m keeping an eye on you.”

Without consulting the rest of the team, Harvey decides to visit Tanner’s client, the widow of the man whose death Coastal Motors played a part in.  As expected, she’s not thrilled at Harvey’s appearance.  To make matters worse, Harvey brings up the fact that the “anonymous donor” to her foundation was actually him, as if his money was enough to repair the damage that he did to her husband’s reputation.  The woman gives Harvey an earful and insists that there’s no chance of her dropping the fraudulent case against Harvey and Pearson Hardman.

It’s hard to see the hero of a show get beat up on, and too much of it can be problematic, but so far “Suits” has done it right. Last season was all about the high-and-mighty Harvey Specter, who could do no wrong and was a living legend in the world of law. But season two has been a much bumpier ride for Harvey, and in “Break Point” he really reaches a low point. Approaching the opposition like that was an idiot move (which he also repeats later in the episode) and it seems like he can’t do anything right. In fact, it seems like most of what he does only amplifies the problems at Pearson Hardman. Harvey is due for a rebound in a couple episodes, but for now it’s actually a nice change of pace to see him struggle.

For the tennis player case, Mike and Harvey sit down with Marco and his dad in an attempt to work things out.  Though Harvey has prepared a speech about Michael Jordan, the father doesn’t bite and refuses to change his mind about his son. He storms out of the meeting, which only emboldens Marco’s desire for emancipation. After the meeting, Mike explains to Harvey that he thinks Marco is in the wrong and shouldn’t be seeking emancipation.  Harvey tells him that, “If you don’t want him to do it, change his mind,” and sends Mike off on a mission to do just that.

But before Mike leaves the office, he watches Donna staring at the same file from earlier. He then follows her to the shredding room and admits that he unplugged the shredder so that she couldn’t shred the document.  When Mike accuses her of finding the document and attempting to destroy evidence, Donna pretends to be insulted.  She even goes so far as to offer him the files she’s holding so that he can see for himself that it isn’t the document.  Unfortunately for Donna, Mike calls her bluff, and as he reaches for the folder she practically whimpers, “I don’t know what to do.”  Mike demands that they tell Harvey immediately, but Donna resists.  In the end, Mike gives Donna an ultimatum—either she tells Harvey, or Mike will tell him for her.

Mike calls Donna’s bluff and she admits that she doesn’t know what to do.

Mike’s confrontation with Donna was fascinating because it touched on so many character dynamics.  The reason Donna’s plight is so difficult to watch is because everybody knows that she’s a moral person who normally wouldn’t ever consider breaking the law.  But desperate times can often lead people to desperate measures, and as Donna realizes how much trouble she’s in, she starts to think against character and seriously consider shredding evidence.  It was also really gratifying to see how Mike handled the news – rather than berate Donna for her mistake, he immediately goes into damage control mode.  This was a nice, subtle way to show how much respect and empathy Mike has for Donna as a co-worker and as a person.  Lastly, the conclusion of the scene demonstrates how blindly Mike trusts and believes in Harvey.  He doesn’t hesitate for a second with his decision to tell Harvey, and he seems confident that Harvey will work his usual magic and fix everything. Usually he’d be right, but this fraud case is proving to be Harvey’s kryptonite.

When Donna goes to Harvey to break the news, she’s interrupted by Hardman and Allison storming into Harvey’s office and skewering him for approaching the opposition. Allison insists that there’s no chance of acquittal and warns that every person at Pearson Hardman will be subpoenaed. Harvey isn’t worried about it since the document never came through the office, and in an awkward moment he shines the spotlight on Donna.  Having missed her chance, Donna decides not to tell Harvey about finding the fraudulent document.

After Allison’s deposition with Donna, she goes to Jessica and tells her that she suspects Donna is covering for Harvey.  Jessica agrees to get a signed affidavit from Harvey saying that the fraudulent memo never entered his office.  Luckily, when Jessica hands the affidavit to Harvey, Mike is present and thinks quickly by knocking a cup of coffee over onto the affidavit.  Jessica mistakes the accident as clumsiness, but Harvey recognizes it as intentional and demands to know why Mike is trying to prevent him from signing an affidavit.  With no other choice, Mike reveals Donna’s secret.  When he hears the truth, Harvey seems almost wounded by the news.

Mike thinks quickly and spills a cup of coffee on the affidavit

Harvey immediately confronts Donna, who insists that she kept the document from him in order to protect him.  Harvey is furious, explaining that by lying to him she was only hurting him and setting him up for disaster.  But in a twist, Harvey explains how Donna finding the document is a good thing because now they can explain why and how Harvey never saw it.  But before our spirits can be lifted, Donna admits that she just recently shredded the paper after the disastrous deposition with Allison.  When Harvey comes clean about the entire situation with Jessica, Hardman and Allison, Jessica agrees with Allison about settling rather than going to trial.

When Donna walked into Harvey’s office to tell him the truth, the following series of unfortunate events was captivating, yet difficult to watch.  Over the course of just a few minutes, everything unraveled and Pearson Hardman’s position seemed to hit rock bottom.  It was like watching a car accident – it was horrific but you couldn’t look away.  But at the same time it was like watching a game of chess.  Jessica’s move with the affidavit for Harvey made us wonder how Harvey would avoid perjuring himself, Mike’s quick thinking saved the day but led to the revealing of Donna’s mishap. Harvey reprimands Donna but explains that finding the document can work to their advantage, then Donna explains that she shredded it, and finally Jessica makes the decision to settle with Tanner and his clients.  What a rush!  And all the while, you can’t help but just feel awful for poor Donna, who’s chances of making it out of this mess alive are looking slimmer by the second.

Breaking from the pressing matters at hand, Mike finally gets the chance to play in the big leagues when Harvey allows him to represent Marco in court. Mike ends up winning the case, but after finding out that Marco lied about his father abusing him, Mike tears up the settlement.  It was great to see Mike succeed when Harvey gave him his big shot, but it might’ve been more effective if it happened in an episode that wasn’t already packed with the intense fraudulent lawsuit storyline. It felt like we were so preoccupied with the main plot in this episode that Mike’s little victory was unfortunately overshadowed by the situation with Donna and the infamous document.

Allison comes back to Jessica with Tanner’s terms of the settlement—Pearson Hardman not only has to pay millions of dollars, but also must strip Harvey of his senior partner status and report him to the bar. As Jessica and Hardman discuss what to do, Hardman insists that they take the settlement and cut Harvey loose. Jessica isn’t so sure, and thinks that they still have a chance of winning the case without having to dispatch Harvey. In the end, Jessica has the authority over Hardman and demands that he fire Allison as their council. They’re going to win the case, which Allison never intended to do.  Hardman is furious, and it’s clear that the Jessica/Daniel power struggle is still as strong as ever.

But before we can celebrate Harvey’s survival, Jessica deals the audience one last fatal blow. She approaches Donna and tells her that she’s fired, effective immediately.  Cue the depressing music (an excellent song by The Cinematic Orchestra) as Donna tearfully packs up her stuff and heads for the elevators. As she leaves, Rachel and Mike watch her go. Rachel points out that Mike said Harvey would fix everything, and Mike admits that he thought he would. Harvey and Donna meet at the elevators, and they share a moment before she gets into the elevator and the doors close.

Harvey and Donna share a moment as she leaves Pearson Hardman

“Break Point” was a gripping, intense, emotional episode to experience that more than ever begs the question of why this show was passed over on the most recent round of Emmy nominations.  The show has so much heart, the characters are dynamic and easy to grow attached to. The writing is exceptional, and every episode outdoes the last.  Even though it was very difficult to watch Donna pack up and leave Pearson Hardman, I applaud Aaron Korsh and the writers for actually committing to some kind of harsh consequences for the scandal that has hit the firm. It would have been easy to resolve the crisis without any major losses, but instead they bit the bullet and shocked audiences by cutting Donna loose.  Making it clear that favorite characters are far from safe is something that the best shows do, in particular HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones.”  Donna getting fired was the equivalent to  the“Thrones” first season shocker when a beloved character was swiftly beheaded.

That being said, the writers have to find a way to bring Donna back. She was one of the strongest, funniest, and most lovable characters on “Suits,” and losing her for good just wouldn’t be a good move for the show. I agree with the decision to fire her, but I’m going to be sad and very unhappy if she doesn’t return in a few episodes.

The only small issue with “Break Point” was that Louis was so absent from all of the drama surrounding Harvey’s fraud case. It was hard to believe that his cat problems would actually distract him to the point that he wouldn’t even attempt to figure out what was happening at the firm. It would have been another interesting layer to add Louis into the mix and see what he could’ve done to help (or hurt) the situation. If Louis had actually helped Harvey or Donna out, that would have been a nice way to strengthen the bond between Harvey and Louis while at the same time proving his worth to Jessica and Daniel.

But as a whole, “Break Point” was still a stellar chapter in this second season of “Suits” that absolutely cannot be missed.

3 Responses

  1. GGY

    It was an excellent episode. There is something off about the stamp, though. Also, it looked like the folder was still in the drawer when Donna removed the last item, the can opener. The closeup of the can opener seems to imply she’ll be back. Also, we will learn about the back story between her and Harvey soon. After all, she alluded to her getting over the requited love when talking to Mike about Rachel. The elevator seen was perhaps the most poignant, and I do not know of any better way to have closed the episode. Simply perfect. The only fault I had was how quickly bumbling they made Donna, which was a complete 180 from her tough, controlled, and craft persona. That didn’t fit for me.

    Reply
    • Andrew

      I generally liked the episode, and usually like the writing. However, it seemed everyone in this episode had to say a few goddams. I thought it was overkill, and maybe offensive to some. One character, maybe two could say it a lot, but everyone???? I don’t think so.

      Reply
  2. GGY

    “I was told by one of the writers that it doesn’t really resolve for a few episodes,” Rafferty says, so “that that kind of lingering confusion and doubt and remorse are there. So that’s a great opportunity for that mask to kind of fall.”

    seems they already have found a way to bring her back

    Reply

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