"Quid Pro Quo"
Original Airdate: February 22, 2017
The moral high ground always has a cost attached to it. That’s just a fact. You can keep your soul and your morality intact, but there will always be a price to pay for it. You might still have your convictions, but you’ll probably lose something else in the process. Mike Ross has never really held the moral high ground in Suits. I don’t know that any character on the show can claim that they have, really. Each person has lied or cheated or bent the truth just a little in order to get what they want (even Donna has done some less-than-legal stuff to protect the people she cares about). This is a show about cutthroat lawyers, and that’s how the system works.
For a long time, Mike Ross was fine with the system working this way because it suited him. He could still claim that he was helping other people, but the truth was that he was mostly helping himself. He boosted his ego and he felt good by working as a lawyer when, in reality, he was a fraud. I lamented the storyline of Mike going to prison because it didn’t seem like he really learned anything in the process. He spent a few months there, and then returned the same smug, self-centered guy who entered. He wasn’t really humbled by the experience, but the past few episodes have been trying to rewrite that narrative — albeit shakily. In “Quid Pro Quo,” we get the closest to seeing a humanized, humbled version of Mike Ross than we have in a long time. He has his sights set on being a lawyer again because he watched Oliver fail in court.
But in this episode, Mike wants to pull the plug for once and take the moral high ground by not blackmailing and extorting the woman who had an affair with Ethics Dude (yup, still calling him that). Mike claims that he doesn’t want to become a lawyer if it’s at the cost of extorting someone and not saving the miners who are relying on him to win their case.
Harvey on the other hand, doesn’t want to pull the plug. And that’s where our real problems in the episode begin. Also in “Quid Pro Quo,” Louis tries to separate his personal and professional life, while Donna and Benjamin work to shop The Donna around to potential investors.
THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS
(Aside: I know that “quid pro quo” is a legal term that means “if you do something for me, I’ll do something for you.” But whenever I hear it, I always think of its inclusion in the Hamilton song “The Room Where It Happens.” Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda.)
The episode opens with Mike telling Rachel that he’s going to pull the plug on the whole “get Mike to become a lawyer again” operation because it’s become too risky. He is disappointed, of course, and that disappointment isn’t lost on his fiancé. But is Mike’s disappointment temporary? Or would he always go through life upset by the fact that he was unable to become a lawyer again. This is where the argument in the episode for Rachel’s involvement falls apart for me. Rachel decides to go behind Mike’s back, team up with Harvey, and secure him a chance at being a lawyer again. And the reason she does this is because she says she saw how disappointed Mike was at the chance of becoming a lawyer getting ripped away from him. She knows that disappointment would never go away, and she can’t live with a man who’s so unhappy about his dreams falling apart without fighting for those dreams.
On the one hand, I get it. Rachel wants to do this for Mike so that he won’t look back on his life and be filled with regret that he didn’t compromise in order to secure the thing he wanted. But on the other, does Rachel really think that Mike’s only chance at happiness and satisfaction is by becoming who he used to be? Until he couldn’t teach, Mike was actually pretty content with that career path. I think he could have been a really great teacher, and I think he could have been happy. But Rachel doesn’t think so.
And when Mike finds out that Rachel did this behind his back, he’s livid. She, on the other hand, won’t apologize. Mike realizes, in that moment, that Harvey and Rachel will always stubbornly fight for him — even if it goes against what he wants. I don’t really know if that’s a good thing though, do you? I’m a bit torn as far as the Mike/Harvey/Rachel story goes in “Quid Pro Quo.” On the one hand, they are clearly a team in looking out for Mike. Harvey doesn’t really have to convince Rachel to get on board with a plan to extort someone in order to get Mike in the Bar. But on the other, does someone really have your best interests at heart when they’re going against what you said you wanted in the first place?
Once Mike sees the lengths they go to, he decides that he’s going to start fighting for his dreams. And as Mike gets deeper into the case with Velocity (and sees what the miners are suffering), he decides to fully get back on board with becoming a lawyer. In fact, he says: “I wanna be a lawyer. I don’t care how we do it.”
I almost liked Mike in this episode. ALMOST. But the truth is that no matter where his heart was, originally, Mike returned to being the same person we’ve always known. He’s ultimately fighting for himself. And “Quid Pro Quo” tries to sugarcoat this storyline by using the word “dreams” a lot, which provokes a kind of assumption of innocence. It doesn’t matter HOW Mike gets there, right? Just that he gets back to being a lawyer so he can do some good in the world! (Never mind the irony in him doing shady things to become a person who helps others.) I don’t know exactly what it was about this week’s episode, but this storyline rubbed me the wrong way.
Harvey started to resemble the same character we’ve always known, too. After weeks of watching some really emotional, really incredible character progression from him, “Quid Pro Quo” was Harvey Specter at his Harvey Specter-est: banging down doors, blackmailing people, and sacrificing pawns to get what he wants. And what he ultimately wants is Mike to become a lawyer and work at Pearson Specter Litt again.
But Harvey is now in charge of the firm and he has to look out for its best interests. And that means, during this episode for a brief stint, he pulls out of the trump card on Mike: Pearson Specter Litt withdraws from the Velocity case, infuriating Mike (mostly because he only learns about it when he’s in a meeting with Palmer). But the firm had to withdraw because Palmer pressured Pearson Specter Litt’s only clients to drop the law firm. When Louis tells Harvey this, he essentially reminds him that the firm comes first. As much as they all care about Mike, it’ll be pointless to try and protect the miners if they end up losing the firm in the process.
Ultimately, everything works out — as it is wont to do in Suits — because Harvey, Rachel, and Mike worked together to take down the bad guys, shake them for settlement money (twice as much as Palmer initially offered), and blackmail Ethics Dude into getting Mike into the Bar without any issues. All’s well that ends well, right?
DONNA PAULSEN, LIGHT OF OUR LIVES
Donna’s story was about chasing dreams too, but it actually took a sadder turn than I anticipated. Still, I’m thrilled to see a story for her that doesn’t involve the firm directly, and includes someone supporting her. If you’ll recall from last week’s episode, The Donna began to work as it showed our favorite redhead empathy. Excited by the fact that this assistant is now ready to be shopped around, Benjamin and Donna agree to meet with potential investors. The former is nervous, because he’s socially awkward. And that’s why Donna — whose name is synonymous with “take charge” — sets up meetings with clients.
The first person she approaches is Stu, that jerk who apparently has a soft spot for Donna (because how could he not?). Donna is willing to let him in on the ground floor of The Donna, but he wants 90% ownership and she is unwilling to give that to him. So Donna and Benjamin take another meeting with one of Harvey’s clients, and Donna displays her spectacular ability to be... well, DONNA.
I’ve kind of wondered for a few weeks now exactly what the purpose of The Donna is. As Donna Paulsen explains in her pitch, it’s better than Siri or Alexa or Cortana put together, because it’s based on a woman whose powers of observation nearly rival Sherlock’s. (Now THAT is a show I would watch the crap out of.) At the end of the meeting, Donna and Benjamin are confident that they’ll have an offer from the client, since the two men seemed really interested.
But when Donna sneaks back to eavesdrop on what they’re saying, she finds the two men laughing at the prospect of doing business with a legal secretary. The only reason, apparently, they took the meeting in the first place was because they like Harvey Specter. There’s no way they’re going to invest in his secretary though. It’s an extremely heartbreaking moment to watch Donna’s face fall and tears well up in her eyes. Because for as strong as she is — and boy is she strong — Donna still wants people to accept her and care about her. She’s outwardly extremely confident, but even she has her insecurities. Sarah Rafferty absolutely nails the moment Donna listens by the door, and it’s so sad to see her face fall and watch her dreams crumble.
While Donna is ready to give up on her dreams, Benjamin is not. I absolutely love the scene in which the two converse and Benjamin encourages Donna not to give up on THEIR dream — they’re a team now, and he won’t give up on her, just like she didn’t give up on him. They’ll succeed or fail, but they’ll do it together. For once, Donna is the one who gets to be on the receiving end of an inspiring speech. We’re so used to watching her deliver monologues that spur on Harvey, Mike, Rachel, Louis, and pretty much every person ever. But who inspires Donna? This week, it’s Benjamin and I’m glad someone was there for her while everyone else is busy with Mike-related stuff.
So Donna re-approaches Stu at the end of the episode, who’s on board with The Donna. Donna, meanwhile, is on board with working with Stu because for as scummy as he can be sometimes, he actually believed in her and the product. Loyalty goes a long way in Donna’s book.
“Quid Pro Quo” was about fighting for your dreams, but it makes me wonder exactly how this season of Suits will end. It can’t be all sunshine and rainbows for our characters, so who will have to watch their dreams crumble in the season finale? We’ll just have to wait to find out!
And now, bonus points:
- “Oh my God. Maybe I really AM a genius.”
- I didn’t talk about it above, but the Louis/Tara storyline this week was sad — only for Louis though because Tara is the living worst. (Sidenote: I think maybe the actress who plays Tara is the reason I’m finding her character on Arrow and her character in Suits so unbearable. Also, Tara just isn’t a great character to begin with.) She encourages openness and honesty in the relationship, so in this week’s episode, Louis decides to tell her that he knew about Mike being a fraud and used the knowledge to get his name on the door. Tara is stunned, and then horrified. She tells Louis that some things should stay hidden, and he shouldn’t have told her about that. Louis is upset, Tara is upset, and I wish this story would just go away now.
- “I wouldn’t expect anything less from a big mouth like you.”
- “You really are like me, aren’t you?” “Unfortunately.”