Last night’s episode of Suits, “Rewind,” was the much awaited and anticipated flashback episode that fans have been looking forward to ever since creator Aaron Korsh revealed it’s existence back at the beginning of the season. “Rewind” spent a small amount of time in the present day, but the majority of it took place five years in the past, where we were able to get a look at how our favorite characters became who they are today. Though this trip to the past didn’t contribute much to the current happenings at Pearson Hardman, it was a fun and often revealing experience to go back and find out how much these people have changed in just five years time.
In the present day, Harvey meets up with Mike outside the offices of Pearson Hardman to tell him that he won’t be at work today. Mike asks why he’ll be out for the day, but Harvey refuses to explain his absence. While he’s away, Harvey gives Mike the task of convincing a woman named Monica to help them bring down Daniel Hardman. Through flashbacks later in the episode, it’s revealed that Monica is the woman that Hardman was cheating with while his wife was dying of breast cancer.
The flashback begins with a brace-faced Louis Litt bickering with Harvey as always (Harvey characteristically made fun of Louis’ braces). At this point in time, both of them are junior partners at Pearson Hardman, vying for the coveted senior partner spot. Jessica comes to Harvey with an important task. She tells him that somebody has been embezzling money from Pearson Hardman’s clients and it’s his job to find out who it is. Harvey agrees to hunt the perpetrator down, but in exchange, he wants to be promoted to senior partner. Jessica reluctantly agrees to the deal. The first person that Harvey goes to for help: his faithful secretary Donna Paulsen.
Boy, was it good to have Donna back! Once Harvey approaches her about the embezzling problem, their chemistry together is instantaneous and we see the two of them interacting like the old days, before Travis Tanner’s fraud lawsuit destroyed everything. Their scenes together in this episode were harsh reminders of what the show loses without Donna in the picture. Revisiting this moment in time five years ago was so bittersweet, because it was sad to see how energetic, giddy, and happy Donna was before the scandal at Pearson Hardman sent her packing.
Still in the past, Harvey does some research (with help from the recently-introduced Zoe character) into who has been stealing money from the firm’s clients. The evidence points to one person: Louis Litt. Harvey passes this information onto Jessica, and she confronts Louis about it without actually flat-out accusing him of embezzlement. But it quickly becomes clear that Louis isn’t guilty of anything more than walking bare-foot in the library, so Jessica returns to Harvey and chews him out about accusing the wrong person. Harvey tells Jessica that he is going to use Louis’ own expertise with finances to figure out who the true thief is, without even revealing the true nature of his request to Louis.
This part of the flashback just goes to show how long Jessica and Harvey have been taking advantage of poor Louis. No wonder he’s so tempted to ally himself with Daniel Hardman over Jessica and Harvey. Even though Harvey eventually gets all the credit for finding the thief and blackmailing him out of the firm, it’s actually Louis who figures out who it is. Without Louis’ numbers and money skills, Harvey would never have found out who was stealing the money. But instead of giving Louis credit, Harvey gets the senior partner promotion while Louis gets what he always gets: nothing. This whole season, it’s clear that Louis is supposed to seem like a bit of a villain for taking Hardman’s side, but who can blame him? Sure he’s on the wrong side of things, but he has every right to be with the way that Jessica and Harvey have treated him over the past five years (and probably longer).
Besides revealing so much about the lawyers at Pearson Hardman, the flashback also explains a great deal about Mike Ross and his past. Five years ago, Mike was still a pot-smoking bike messenger and he was still best friends with ultimate loser Trevor. When Mike and Trevor meet Jenny and her friend Nikki at a bar, it’s clear from the very beginning that Mike and Jenny have excellent chemistry together. But before Mike can make a move, Trevor sneaks in and asks her out behind his back. So instead of dating Jenny, Mike tries things with Nikki. It’s clear that there isn’t really anything going on between them, but when Nikki finds out that Mike is a genius, she asks him to take her LSATs for her in exchange for $1,000 in cash. Mike initially rejects Nikki’s offer, but when he sees that his beloved grandmother needs to be put into assisted-living, he realizes he needs the money and returns to Nikki with an offer to take her test in exchange for $5,000.
This flashback episode was great in many ways, but it was particularly helpful in explaining how a good person like Mike could get involved in helping people cheat major tests like SATs and LSATs. Since the beginning of “Suits” it’s been clear that Mike is a kind, compassionate and honorable person who stands up for what’s right. This has been demonstrated by countless cases in which Mike went against the firm’s wishes just to help a person who was in need or to take the side of the person who was right. Knowing this, it was always something that fans wondered in the back of their minds: how does a good person like Mike end up taking people’s tests for money? In “Rewind” we get an origin story of sorts, and Mike’s backstory reveals that he was persuaded by the need to help his aging grandmother. Sometimes, decent people have to do bad things in order to do what’s right and good, and such is the case with Mike.
Remaining in the flashback time period, Harvey breaks the news to Jessica that it’s actually Hardman who is embezzling money from their clients—half a million, to be exact. Harvey insists that Jessica take it to the DA, but Jessica decides to directly confront Daniel about it instead. Harvey reminds her that they made a deal, and Jessica tells Harvey that she’ll be taking Hardman’s office while he’ll be taking her old one (and assuming the role of senior partner).
Harvey’s elation over his new promotion doesn’t last very long. When he returns to his office, he finds Zoe waiting for him. Before she can speak, he says that he assumes she’s here to congratulate him on the big news. But Zoe reveals that she actually stopped by to offer her condolences over Harvey losing his father, which she expected him to be grieving about. Instead, the promotion has apparently caused Harvey to completely forget about his father dying. Zoe tells Harvey that she’s leaving the firm and that he’s clearly lost his way.
This scene was particularly interesting because it marks what may have been the turning point for Harvey, in which he changed from being more like Mike to being what Harvey is like today. Zoe seems to imply that Harvey used to be much more caring, empathetic, and just more human. But now that he’s been consumed by all the lies and backstabbing going on behind the scenes at Pearson Hardman, he’s changed for the worse. Seeing this happen to Harvey makes you wonder whether Mike could soon go through something similar. Could this flashback scene foreshadow Mike’s transition from a caring and compassionate person to a hardened, emotionless workaholic like Harvey?
Jessica calls Hardman out on stealing money from their clients. When he realizes that his game is up, Daniel claims that he’s been stealing the money in order to help pay for his sick wife’s breast cancer treatments. Jessica believes him and relays this to Harvey, but Harvey is suspicious and does some further digging. Eventually, he shows up at Daniel’s house with a letter of resignation for him to sign, also catching him in the act of cheating on his wife with Monica. Harvey explains that he found out about Daniel’s affair and knows that the embezzled money is going towards pampering her, not helping his dying wife. Harvey gives Hardman a choice: leave Pearson Hardman or have his dying wife find out about his affair.
Back in the present day, Louis tells Hardman that Mike has been meeting with Monica and is probably making a move to help Jessica win the vote. He explains that he’s telling Daniel this because he’s always treated Louis better than Jessica has. Daniel confronts Jessica about sending Mike to talk to Monica, which she admits she never did. Then, Jessica loudly confronts Mike in the hallway about talking to Monica and bringing up her affair with Daniel, which gets the attention of a number of people who are walking by.
Eventually it is revealed that Harvey has taken the day off to go visit the grave of his dead father. In the flashback, we’d seen Donna tearfully enter Harvey’s office and tell him that his dad had a heart attack. Clearly Harvey’s trip to his father’s headstone is a ritual, because Jessica asks him how it went when he returns to the firm. She also reveals that their plan to manipulate Mike into helping them spread the news of Hardman’s affair has worked perfectly. Harvey is pleased by the news, and before he walks away he tells Jessica, “Oh and one more thing: I’m getting Donna back.”
And that, folks, is how you end an episode! Obviously the biggest question is, how the heck are the writers going to figure out a way to bring Donna back? There’s no question that Donna did shred that all-important document, so what could possibly be said to convince Jessica, Hardman, and the board to allow Donna to return? If anybody can pull it off, the writers of “Suits” can, so it will be very exciting to see how they manage to have Donna return in a way that works.
“Rewind” did very little to push the present-day story forward, but it was illuminating to go back five years and discover how certain relationships and situations came about. There was a nice balance between important information and simply fun exploitations of a flashback episode (Louis’ braces, Mike mocking Harvey as he walks by, Donna and Harvey celebrating his promotion with thumbtacks, etc.). Most of what happened with Jessica, Hardman and Harvey was already known, but Mike’s backstory was particularly enlightening. Plus, it was helpful to have a full episode that showed it all happening, rather than just referencing the past in exposition in the present-day.
The preview for next week’s episode makes it look like things will be returning back to craziness when the time for the vote between Jessica and Daniel finally arrives. A big deal is made about Louis possibly being the deciding vote, and how he has recently been leaning heavily towards voting for Hardman. But my biggest question is: why don’t Harvey and Jessica just tell Louis the whole truth about Hardman? Tell him about Hardman cheating on his dying wife with Monica (whom Louis has always had a thing for), and remind him about how Hardman tried to frame Louis for embezzling money from their clients. There’s never been a better time to treat Louis like a big boy and include him in all of the drama going on at the firm.
Whatever happens, it’s clear that from here on out, things are going to get messy. With only two episodes of “Suits” left, anything and anyone is game.