SUITS has never been “just” a legal drama. If there was ever any doubt, the season 5 finale, “25th Hour,” has more than proven that. In an episode that focused more on the emotional impact of the end of Mike Ross’ fraud trial than on the legal process itself, the entire Pearson Specter Litt family faced the consequences of that moment when Harvey Specter decided to hire a brilliant young man who had never been to law school.
Mike Ross’ deal with the devil. The SUITS season season 5 finale picked up where the penultimate episode left off, with Mike Ross in the office of U.S. Attorney Anita Gibbs, ready to seal his fate. As expected, Mike chose the deal that would keep Harvey Specter and the rest of the firm safe, landing himself in prison for two years. Say what you will about Mike Ross, but he’s not the type of guy to turn on the people he loves.
Although it was obvious that Gibbs wanted Harvey’s head on a silver platter from the start, she was content to go with whatever she could get and signed off on Mike’s deal, only offering minimal disagreement when he told her he wanted to make sure the official documents specified that Harvey couldn’t renegotiate. Mike thought of everything. Not only would this stipulation provide extra protection for the firm when it came to any future ambitions of Gibbs’, but it would also be a major roadblock should Harvey try to take the fall himself.
As Mike was leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office, Harvey came running around the corner, coming to a stop when he realized he was too late. I believe the only other time that Harvey Specter has looked that devastated was when Donna walked away from him at the end of last season. Our boy doesn’t have a good track record with season finales here.
Rachel ever the supportive fiancee, arrived just behind Harvey…and proceeded to make the whole situation about her. “Blah, blah. He promised me he wouldn’t do this. Oh no, what about me?!” I may be paraphrasing here, but that’s what I heard. I think that’s what Mike heard, too, because he actually had to explain to Rachel that he hadn’t turned himself in to hurt her but because he had to live with himself and his decisions. Again, Mike Ross isn’t the type to turn on the people he loves, so there’s no way he could have lived with himself if he’d let Harvey — or anyone else from the firm, for that matter — be penalized for what he’d done in practicing law without a degree.
Mike just wanted to spend the last of his time as a free man with the woman he loved, “I made a decision. I can’t go back in time and change it. We are right here. We have three days left,” but Rachel was too mad about not getting her way to allow that. She needed a day to herself.
So, while Rachel was storming off and refusing to listen to even Donna’s advice about being there for Mike through this tough time — because, seriously, refusing to listen to Donna has worked out when? — Harvey was bursting into the courtroom, insisting that Mike’s finalized deal was anything but. Mike, however, had made his choice and was standing by it; so, there was nothing to be done: “Because it’s not up to him. It’s up to me, and I’ve made my decision.”
Exactly, Mike…but you know he’s going to try anyway.
Harvey Specter’s reaction. Harvey Specter has never been good at losing — he hasn’t exactly done a lot of it — and seeing Mike take the fall for their shared fraud was probably his biggest loss yet. Unwilling to accept that Mike was really going to prison, Harvey spent the SUITS finale working through the five stages of grief. He started with denial: Harvey’s courtroom antics were nothing more than the frantic actions of a man who knew the writing was on the wall but refused to accept it.
And then he suffered the anger, bargaining, and depression stages in a non-linear, repetitive, and outright devastating succession. It was the type of emotional journey that most series can only accomplish with the death of a major character, but SUITS isn’t like other series.
Harvey had to know what the jury’s verdict would have been; and his trip to visit the jury’s foreman resulted in nothing more than the additional painful knowledge that, had he and Mike simply had faith in the legal system, they would have been awarded with a verdict of not guilty. In order to protect his friend, partner, and pseudo-brother, though, Harvey went back into the denial phase when Mike came to Harvey’s office, begging to be told he’d made the right choice. He lied, saying Mike would have been found guilty — anything to keep his family from suffering even more.
While Mike was busy trying to find some peace and acceptance during his remaining seventy-two hours of freedom, Harvey was battling through his anger and depression whilst trying to do what he does best: bargaining. He demanded that Donna bring him everything they had on Mike’s trial so they could invalidate his deal. When there was nothing that he could use, he lashed out. Anger, anyone?
Donna did some bargaining of her own, offering to let Gibbs have her because of the fraud she’d committed in the whole Liberty Rail fiasco last year. But while Harvey was willing to sacrifice himself for Mike, he outright refused to put Donna on the line. Be still my heart. Harvey has learned that sacrificing one innocent person for another — especially when when he cares about both of those innocent people — is never the right choice.
In a last ditch effort to get Mike off the hook, Harvey took Liberty Rail themselves to Gibbs, claiming that what they had done as fraudulent murderers was far more harmful than Mike practicing law without a degree. Somehow, that turned into Gibbs admitting that she hated the way Harvey always bent the rules, and that’s why she was so intent on coming at him…and I scratched my head because, lady, all you’ve done is play dirty. Also, really? That’s a reason to want to destroy so many lives? You don’t like that someone breaks the rules? Gibbs made the distinction that what she did was “justice,” so Harvey again pointed out that taking down Liberty Rail was exactly that, but she wasn’t budging.
Earth to Anita Gibbs: Harvey Specter wasn’t born breaking the rules. He was born into a crappy family with a cheating mother and a mess of a brother.
So, when Mike came to visit Harvey to ask him to be his best man, Harvey snapped right back into anger mode. He lashed out at the man he’d been trying so desperately to save, telling him he was a fool for thinking about wedding preparations when he was headed to prison. And then what followed was a scotch-glass-throwing, face-destroying argument about who should take the blame. Both Mike and Harvey finally let all of their anger pour out, right on to each other. It wasn’t about (literally) hitting each other where it hurt; it was about sharing that hurt in the only way they knew how.
Mike blamed himself. Harvey blamed himself…and I blamed myself for not keeping something nearby to throw so that I, too, had a way to let out my emotions.
In the end, though, it didn’t matter. Mike still refused to let Harvey go to Gibbs. Harvey still felt guilty for ever having started this process, even if it took both men to make the decision for Mike to become Harvey’s associate. Trading apologies and a few half-hearted jokes, the boys of SUITS made whatever kind of small peace they could with the consequences of their actions. And when it came time for Mike to walk out on his shotgun wedding and head off to face his sentence, Harvey was the one right there by his side to take him to the end of the road. Because that’s what brothers do.
“Even knowing how it all turned out, I’d do it again.” Same, Mike. I’d still watch you take this journey and build this brotherhood with the guy next to you, even knowing how much it rained on my face when you two fought, when you apologized, and when you said goodbye.
Whether it was Harvey’s fault that Mike wound up in jail or not, he definitely played a role in shaping the boy with all the wasted potential into the man who was willing to spend time behind bars to prevent his family from falling suffering for him. And whether Mike was to blame for the firm coming under fire or not, we still have him to thank for helping to turn the seemingly emotionless lawyer dubbed “the best closer in the city” into a man who spent days barely holding back tears as he tried destroying everything in his path to save one of the very few people in his life about whom he’d allowed himself to openly care.
That’s just what family does.
The impact on the firm. While it was seemingly Harvey against the world, Jessica Pearson and Louis Litt were busy trying to save the firm from the fallout of Mike’s deal. As part of the bargain he’d struck with Gibbs, Mike had to admit that he was never really a lawyer, which meant every single case he’d touched would be subject to suit. It also meant every single client Pearson Specter Litt had was going to want to leave.
The biggest blow came from Robert Zane, who found a way to bypass the Pearson Specter Litt non-compete clause with the help of Louis’ former associate, Katrina. I’d started liking Katrina after originally not being able to stand her, all because of the great relationship she’d developed with Louis. That relationship, however, has been tossed out with yesterday’s garbage, all because Louis failed to get her rehired after he became name partner. Louis apologized and said it was all about keeping her safe from Mike’s secret…and she recorded the entire conversation, betraying Louis a second time.
Yep. If we’re still keeping the Harvey/Louis score here, Louis got the short end of the stick again. Katrina was willing to stab him in the back to get herself ahead at Zane’s firm, whereas Harvey’s protege wouldn’t even turn on him to avoid jail time.
Katrina’s underhanded actions ensured that, when Jessica came to Robert Zane, threatening to sue him for inducement, he had enough leverage to keep her from turning her threats into actions. Oh, and the whole reason Zane was even in attack mode? He didn’t care that Jessica had hired a fraud; he just resented her for not warning him when his daughter started dating said fraud. Because everything’s about Rachel Zane.
A note to Mr. Zane? Your daughter’s technically an adult now, even if she doesn’t always act like it. Her boss doesn’t need to inform you of her poor dating choices because they’re not really your business. I guess, to be fair, this is another example of family protecting family. I just don’t like the way it manifested itself. Not only was Zane playing dirty in business in order to get back at someone for what he thought was a personal slight, but he was also being the sort of grossly overprotective father that just irks me. I’m all for the independent adult thing, not the let Daddy protect me thing.
What’s actually important here is that, even in the midst of both clients and employees jumping ship, Jessica and Louis still tried to help Harvey make his deal with Gibbs: “Mike’s family. Even if we lose half the firm, if we don’t try to save him, who are we?” Bless you, Louis Litt.
Later, Louis would bring Jessica the bad news that they’d failed to save Mike. It was a beautiful, quiet moment where so much more was communicated than just the fact that it was all over. Jessica was watching the associates busy at work, knowing everything was bound to change before she even had the confirmation from Louis. It was impossible not to see how much this firm meant to her and how much she cared about every single part of it — not just the partners but even those lowly newcomers. For Jessica, the loss was a great one; but even then, she knew it wasn’t just about business. It was also about something more: “Louis, you were right: He’s family, and we had to try. And whoever’s left, we’ll be stronger. Even if we’re smaller.”
And smaller they were.
In what was perhaps one of the most devastating shots yet, Jessica and Louis returned to the firm’s offices at the end of SUITS’ season finale, only to find the place completely empty. The only souls left were those members of the immediate family who’d been fiercely protecting Mike Ross and his secret: Donna Paulsen, Jessica Pearson, and Louis Litt. That’s it. Those three, plus a totally wrecked Harvey Specter — who was busy watching the friend he couldn’t protect go off to spend two years behind bars — were all that was left.
- I’m not sure what bothers me more: that Mike Ross thought he had to apologize to Rachel Zane for doing the right thing and confessing to a crime…or that we needed sexposition to confirm that the couple was back on solid ground. Hot copy room sex to make the relationship official a few seasons back? Sign me up. Tonight’s hook up? Meh.
- “Mike just threw his whole life away, and there’s nothing I can do about it. And the only way I can accept it is if I find out what that verdict is going to be.” Oh, Harvey…There’s nothing quite like seeing this usually strong character utterly broken down and even admitting it to someone else. Just one of the many beautiful ways Harvey has grown as a character and one of many, many beautifully heartbreaking moments in tonight’s episodes.
- “I guess it’s time to get busy living or get busy dying.” Mike Ross with the quote from The Shawhank Redemption, just to prove that he and Harvey are still them. I don’t know how Harvey’s going to spend two years without being able to trade film quotes with his little brother every day, to be honest.
- I think I’m just going to steal from the great Sarah Rafferty here and say Gabriel Macht put on a “#MasterClass in acting” tonight. Because he did (and then their banter following the episode was a master class in how to be awesome on social media).
- Speaking of phenomenal acting, Patrick J. Adams. Enough said.
- I’m going to say two very contradictory things here: First, “25th Hour” could easily have been a fantastic series finale, given the masterful way it portrayed the ultimate outcome of the accidental job interview that started it all. But. But. Second, I really can’t wait for season six. Part two of this family’s story can start now that the first bit has wrapped. How can Pearson Specter Litt come back from this? How is prison going to change Mike? Will Rachel still be waiting around when he comes back? Can Harvey and Donna just make out already? Maybe these questions can be answered in SUITS season six. I know I’ll be tuning in.