By Mandi Bierly
June 15, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network
S2 E1
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  • TV Show
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Suits fans may have had to endure a brutal nine-month wait for a new episode, but after watching the season 2 premiere, odds are we can all agree it was worth it. Creator Aaron Korsh appears to have had enough time to figure out all the ways he could make a good show even better (and how to fit in Goodfellas and Highlander quotes). Let’s break it down. 

• Jessica is in the know, which should mean more screen time for Gina Torres. If Trevor hadn’t told Jessica that Mike was a fraud, any future threats to Mike and Harvey would not have been taken seriously by viewers. I think this played out the best possible way: Trevor told her Mike had never gone to any law school, so she had him investigated. There was a record of him graduating at the top of his class at Harvard Law, but not of him getting an undergraduate degree from any university in the world. Maybe Harvey and Mike should have thought about doctoring that, too, but I certainly hadn’t, so I can’t fault them. It also establishes Jessica as their mental match. She told Harvey to fire Mike, and Harvey stalled by tricking Louis into giving Mike more work — by, of course, asking him to lay off him for a few days because Jessica had taken an interest in grooming him. Harvey knew if Mike were to suddenly leave while being assigned work for Louis on an important merger, Louis would ask questions that Jessica didn’t want to answer.

Still, Harvey needed another break: The wife of Daniel Hardman (David Costabile, pictured far right), the other half of Pearson Hardman, had died. Threatening to tell her about an affair Hardman had was how Jessica and Harvey got him to leave the firm five years ago when they discovered he’d been borrowing money from escrow — he paid it back, but clients still could have put him away for theft. Harvey wanted to go public with Hardman’s crimes, but Jessica said it would hurt the firm’s reputation. So, they pushed him out instead. Now that their leverage was gone, they assumed Hardman would return for their heads.

It’s a bold move going to a man’s wife’s funeral to ask if he’s going to make your life hell. It’s also bold to have some of the hour’s funniest moments set there, like Jessica and Harvey discussing whether she’d addressed “Being a prick keeps you handsome” to him (oh, the ‘shippers!), and Louis deciding that the long line to pay respects to Hardman was suddenly “flowing” when associate Harold suggested Hardman might now return to work and stealing the cancer ribbon Harold was wearing for his own lapel. (This power struggle should give Rick Hoffman more screen time, too, as Louis chooses a side, and that’s also well-deserved.)

An eerily serene Hardman insisted that Jessica tossing him out was the best thing anyone could have done for him — it gave him the opportunity to connect with and care for his wife and get to know his teen daughter. But Jessica and Harvey weren’t buying it. Harvey seized the moment to cut Jessica a deal: If he stops Hardman from returning, Mike doesn’t have to go. Cut to Harvey showing up at Hardman’s house and threatening to tell his daughter about the affair if he doesn’t set up his practice elsewhere. Harvey thought he’d won, but no. Hardman ended up coming clean to the firm’s employees about having been unscrupulous, power-hungry, and greedy, and, he says, also to his daughter about having cheated on her mother. If you’re busy and distracted hiding what you’ve done, you’re vulnerable to anyone who discovers it, he said. It’s then a slippery slope in terms of what you’d be willing to do to keep your secret. He wants to now prove the firm can be successful without breaking the rules.

That slippery slope sentiment flowed nicely into Jessica’s next showdown with Harvey. He failed to keep Hardman at bay, so Mike had to go. Remembering her reasons for not wanting to publicly out Hardman five years ago as a fraud — because it would reflect poorly on her — Harvey used them against her now. He told her he had known Mike was a fraud when he hired him. If Mike gets canned, Harvey would leave, too, and then Hardman would start asking questions. Hardman would use this all happening under her leadership to make her look reckless or foolish, and he’d move to replace her as managing partner. Jessica slid: She’s going to accept Mike’s situation so he and Harvey can help save her job.

Later, she told Mike she wanted to know everything, starting with how he got Harvey to hire him. Just seeing the smile on Mike’s face when Jessica said she wouldn’t need to use a computer in their battle of the brains made me excited to watch them have more scenes together. It’s gonna be fun to see how she’ll use Mike and Harvey, what moves those three can come up with in their civil war with Hardman. Instead of the Hatfields & McCoys, it’s the Pearsons & Hardmans. (Do you think we learned that Jessica had plagiarized in college not only so plagiarism would be on Mike’s brain for his current case, but also so Jessica might empathize with Mike when she hears he was kicked out of college for selling a test? She made a mistake, too, she just didn’t get caught.)

NEXT: Things get personal

• We learned more about Mike and Harvey’s personal lives in this hour than we did all last season. It is a bit cliché to have someone in a cop or lawyer’s life with whom he can always have an epiphany while chatting about something totally unrelated to the case. But we want to know more about Mike’s past, so Grammy’s return is welcome. We learned that Mike gets his ability to think on his feet and make up manipulative stories from her. When he was 6 years old, he ran away to her house because his parents wouldn’t let him stay up to watch The Cosby Show. She told him how she’d run away from her parents once and was found by some dock workers. Never happened, she confessed. She basically just tweaked the story of Hansel and Gretel to make it more believable. That recycling gave Mike an idea how to deal with a former publishing house assistant who was claiming her boss had stolen her pitch, given the idea to another writer, and denied her credit. Mike threatened to countersue saying she’d plagiarized her outline from past titles in the publisher’s library that very easily could have been written from it.

More meaningful information: When Jessica took Mike out to dinner at the start of the episode, she got to ask questions someone like Harvey wouldn’t. She wanted to know why he wanted to be a lawyer, and we learned it was because his parents were killed by a drunk driver when he was 11. When he was older and realized he could’ve sued the restaurant that kept serving the driver drinks even though they knew he’d reached his limit, he never wanted to feel that helpless again. Through that dinner conversation, we also learned he was 3 years old when he realized he was different from other kids. Because of his photographic memory, he never had to take notes or study. People told him that’d change when the classes got tougher, but it never did.

As for Harvey’s background, it’s amazing how much info. Donna managed to squeeze in when she was trying to figure out why Harvey suddenly wanted to return the call of a man who’d phoned him 136 times. (He felt guilty because he thought he was going to have to fire Mike and was compensating.) She’d only seen him wear lavender once before when his brother was in the hospital, so he’s feeling protective in a big brother way. (He has a younger brother!) Either Harvey’s mother resurfaced (he doesn’t speak to her and probably hasn’t for awhile!) or Jessica found out about Mike, Donna deduced. That mother comment was especially interesting after Harvey threatened to tell Hardman’s daughter about his affair. Harvey told Hardman growing up he’d had “a friend” who found out his mother had never loved his father and cheated on him for their entire marriage before finally leaving him. The friend never forgave his mother. Could Harvey be that friend? Is that why his mother’s not in his life? Is that actually the reason Harvey has a rule never to date a married woman? He knows the kind of pain it would bring her husband and children in the end. It would also explain why Harvey could have trust issues with women and prefer not to get attached.

• And speaking of trust issues… They are going to abound this season. Mike already questioned whether he should trust Harvey when Harvey said he was working to save his job. In the end, Mike did, and I think we all believe Harvey when he says Mike won’t get fired on his watch. (There would be no show then.) But when the stakes are this high, you have to think doubts will creep back in. Jessica will clearly do whatever it takes to remain boss. Mike will clearly do whatever it takes to stay employed at the firm so he can pay for Grammy’s nursing home. We’re trained to think a man like Harvey will look out for himself before all others, even though it’s more clear than ever how much he cares about Mike. But does Mike know Harvey threatened to leave if Jessica canned him? There’s just enough gray area there that you can see how they could each be convinced by someone that they’re being betrayed.

• Mike is free to pursue Rachel… sort of. Jenny told Mike that she knew about his kiss with Rachel because Trevor had told her — right before Trevor said he was going to pay Jessica a visit. They broke up. When Mike later confronted Trevor and told him to always remember that he saw his social security number in the sixth grade so he could screw with his life, too (SLIPPERY SLOPE!), Trevor wouldn’t tell him how he knew about the kiss. Remembering that Rachel had said she’d gotten his message loud and clear — it’d been three days since she drunk-dialed him and she assumed he wasn’t addressing it because he didn’t feel the same way — he listened to his voicemail and heard her message. Yay! Patrick J. Adams and Gabriel Macht teased some of the complications that could arise if Mike decides to pursue Rachel now. Remember, she still doesn’t know he doesn’t have a law degree.

Your turn. Are you excited by the direction of season 2? And which was your favorite quip of the night?

“We can discuss the prom at recess” — Harvey to Mike, when Mike asked what he should wear to his dinner with Jessica

“Black don’t crack” — Mike to Jessica, after she said you know what they say about women who look good at her age

“Would that it were… rodents of the sea” — Louis to Harvey, wishing he could, in fact, be clubbing baby seals

“Can I get you anything? Tissue, glass of water, tampon?” — Donna to Harvey, and then Harvey to Donna, while debating who’d been more overwhelmed with emotion at the thought of Harvey firing Mike

P.S. Adams totally got me. I thought Mike was speechless leaving Harvey’s office because Harvey had fired him, and the episode would be Harvey getting him back — not because Harvey told him he was proud of him. Between that and Jessica’s glowing report to Harvey about her dinner with Mike, some very effective misdirects.

Read more:

‘Suits’ scoop: That budding (Mike) Ross-Rachel romance won’t be easy

‘Suits’ Who’s Who: A primer for Season 2 with a look back — and ahead

‘Suits’ season finale: Creator Aaron Korsh talks cliffhangers, chemistry, and of course, that can opener

Episode Recaps

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