“Toe to Toe” is the latest addition to the period we’re calling Suits‘ “blue period.” Like preceding episodes, it had the potential to be a fun and banter-heavy episode, but it gets bogged down with a lot of moody material that it’s simply not capable of handling. Picking up a dangling thread from last week’s outing, tonight’s episode starts to dig further into Harvey’s issues with his mother. If there’s one thing Suits is doing well, it’s convincingly showing much Donna’s departure has rocked his life.
Tonight’s Suits finds Harvey back in therapy with Dr. Paula Agard (no relation, I think). He’s been having nightmares about Donna snuggling with Travis Tanner, who returns this week to face off with Harvey and Mike, in his bed. When he doesn’t admit that Donna is the woman in his dream, Dr. Agard asks him to tell her instead about the case. Like the premiere, most of the episode is told mainly through flashbacks. This structural device isn’t nearly as effective as it was in the premiere.
The dynamic duo is back together! If there’s one good thing to come from Travis’ return, it’s that Harvey and Mike are finally working a case together after weeks apart. Mike’s worried going up against Travis will cause another panic attack, but Harvey says he needs this fight. Sublimation is so cliché and Harvey should know he’s better than this, but alas he doesn’t.
Like points on Whose Line Is It Anyway, the details of the case don’t matter. All you need to know is that the boys are ready for Travis to pull some “underhanded sh–“ (to borrow Jessica’s words) like he normally does and thus take preemptive action. Ready for war, they confidently go to the first meeting, but find Travis waving a white flag, i.e. a settlement, and claiming he’s a changed man. From where Dr. Agard’s sitting, Harvey seems like the villain of the story because he’s the one crossing lines by waging war on a man trying to surrender. Maybe that other Harvey was right and you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain…
Across the office, Louis has his hands full this week. Not only is he searching for a new mudding partner, he’s also trying to reverse the compensation vote. He tries to do so by underhandedly creating a new bylaw that would negate the vote, but Jessica is tired of the shadiness. The only way he’ll make it right with Harvey and her is to bring up for another vote. Now, Louis must find a way to convince Jack and the senior partners to support the motion. Seeing no other option and because he never learns, Louis does exactly what Jessica told him not to and does some underhanded sh– —tricking Jack into believing he signed a major client that would benefit from them returning to the old compensation rules. This goes about as well you’d expect.
Things don’t go well for Harvey and Mike in court, and the judge denies several of their unimportant motions. To make matters worse, Travis also says his client has drafted a sexual harassment complaint against their client. Neither of them believe it’s real and their married client insists that it isn’t true. This complaint has the potential to ruin their client’s family, which enrages Harvey even more because family is something sacred that you never mess with. Dr. Agard finds Harvey’s defense of family puzzling as he’s never been married and points out that he obviously picked this fight to avoid dealing with his issues. Real talk: If Harvey and Jessica had shared any scenes together, she probably would have said the same thing and saved Harvey money.
On orders to blow Travis’ client out of the water, Mike casually runs into her at a coffee bar and warns her that filing a false sexual harassment accusation is a criminal offense. But, the woman doesn’t care because Travis already warned her when she came up with the idea. We’re all surprised, and Mike starts to think they should take the settlement. Harvey refuses and decides to launch a more serious attack on the client.
NEXT: Dr. Agard and Harvey play poker
Meanwhile, Louis, believing he’s successfully tricked Jack, calls another partner meeting for a vote. Surprise: Jack screws him over and the partners pass a vote that makes the compensation changes permanent. When Jessica can’t find Louis after the vote, she asks Donna, “Did he do some underhanded sh– to Jack and it backfired?” Jokes, like she even needed to ask.
A pissed-off Travis confronts Harvey about his latest attack. Their confrontation turns violent when Travis suggests that Donna leaving Harvey for Louis was like Harvey’s mother leaving Harvey’s father for some guy down the road. Where’s Michael Jackson when you need him to break up a fight, because Mike is not up to the task.
In the present, Dr. Agard continues to implore Harvey to be open and honest with her, but he won’t. She tries another tactic and proposes they play a game of poker. If she wins, he’ll be open with her, and if he wins, he’ll get whatever he wants. When she does lose, Harvey asks her to tell him about her biggest professional screw-up. At first she’s reluctant, but she does tell him about it. Short story short, she signed off on a recovering drug addict leaving a rehab center to attend his mother’s funeral even though he wasn’t ready, and the kid ended up dying from an overdose the night before the funeral. When Harvey still refuses to open up, she tells him to stop wasting her time and leave.
While Harvey was in his session, Tanner reached out to Mike for a meeting. Worried about Harvey’s state of mind and unable to reach him, Mike decides to meet with Travis without Harvey. To prove he’s a changed man and willing to put his client’s interests over his, Travis removes himself from the case because we all know that’s the only reason Harvey wasn’t signing the agreement. Initially, Harvey feels betrayed that Mike would meet with Travis without him, but he agrees to the settlement when Mike reveals the deal he made with Travis.
Realizing the error of his ways, Harvey returns to Dr. Agard’s office that night and admits Donna was in the dream. She thanks him for the honesty, but says she thinks it was actually his mother in the dream. Harvey hulks out and storms out of the room, because he hates when anyone brings up his mother. To be fair, it’s not surprising that Donna’s departure has stirred all of this other stuff up because she’s clearly the most significant relationship he’s had with a female, and probably anyone, for years. If Donna doesn’t come back, will Harvey ever be able to trust again? Who knows. We do know that either way Suits will probably pursue some kind of inappropriate, potentially one-sided romantic story between Harvey and Dr. Agard, so that’s something to look forward to or dread.
Meanwhile, Donna convinces a defeated Louis that his only option now is to confess to Jessica that he purposefully left Harvey’s salary information in the copier. If anything, it’ll gain her trust back. Well, it turns out, this is exactly what Jessica wanted Louis to do because now she can threaten to fire Jack for not coming forward with knowledge of Louis’ actions. It works and Jack accepts the b.s. bylaw Louis wrote earlier. Basically, Jessica knew Louis would do what she told him not to, so she was prepared.
As always, Louis’ B-plot served as a nice counterpoint to Harvey’s messy A-plot. See, how well things turned out when Louis told the truth? He made things right with Harvey and was rewarded by going mudding with both Donna and Rachel. If Harvey could be honest with himself and his therapist, we could move pass this moody and buzzkiller nonsense and get back to the fun, banter-heavy Suits.