Suits recap: 'The Painting'
Harvey has a fraught reunion with his mother, and Mike finds a new job.
Harvey’s mother issues have been looming over Suits since they were introduced in season 5, and now it’s time to finally tackle them head on. Following Donna’s advice, Harvey travels to Boston to make amends with his mother Lily (Brynn Thayer). The reunion is as fraught as you’d expect, which allows Gabriel Macht to turn in a pretty strong performance in an episode that doesn’t shy away from holding Harvey accountable for neglecting his family.
As we find out through flashbacks in tonight’s episode, Harvey hasn’t seen or spoken to his mother since his father’s funeral, where they exchanged some very harsh words when Lily’s partner Bobby, the man with whom she had an affair, showed up at the wake. So, Lily is pleasantly surprised when Harvey shows up at her art studio ready to make amends. Unfortunately, she can’t have dinner that night because it’s her students’ art show, so they make plans to meet the next night at his brother Marcus’ restaurant.
Since Harvey’s in town for the first time in ages, Marcus insists Harvey stay with him and his family. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed seeing Harvey around his family, especially his brother. There’s a vulnerability here we usually don’t see when he’s suited up back in New York. Here, we get a Harvey who actually enjoys putting his niece and nephew to bed, which is something even he’s surprised by. This is the first sign of the strain Harvey’s anger toward his mother has put on his relationship with his brother. He’s missed out on important family times like this.
The next night, Harvey meets his mother for dinner. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the dinner’s pleasant beginning doesn’t last long. Harvey starts off by saying he forgives her for what she did, but then it turns rather combative when Lily says she forgives Harvey for their last encounter and his absence all of these years. Harvey is taken aback that Lily thought he needed forgiveness. Soon enough, they start throwing insults back at each other, and the dinner ends with Harvey storming off.
Let’s be honest: Harvey is definitely in the wrong here, too. He has been absent for many years, and his self-absorption has prevented him from seeing how much pain that has caused the rest of his family. He doesn’t realize this until Marcus reveals that he got sick a few years ago. Bobby and Lily were there for him and the kids while Harvey wasn’t. Not only has Harvey failed as a son, but he has also failed as a brother. In other words, he’s a hypocrite. Loyalty is the most important thing to Harvey (mostly due to his mother) and he takes Jessica’s departure so hard because he believes “family never leaves,” but now we realize that he left his family a long time ago.
After his conversation with Marcus, Harvey visits his mother and admits that he’s tired of being angry (we’re tired of him being angry, too!) and they actually make amends. Standing in her studio, Harvey starts to tear up as he remembers how much he misses her duck painting.
Harvey returns to New York a less angry person (and with the painting) and stops by Louis’ office to apologize for his outburst and thank him for holding down the fort while he was gone. Harvey proposes that he and Louis act as co-managing partners, which could either be the worst or best idea. This is definitely a mature move on Harvey’s part and hopefully signals the return of the old Harvey.
NEXT: Mike gets pulled back into the law
While Harvey’s in Boston, Mike is busy acclimating to his new job. Yes, our little fraud has found a job. And not just any job, but one at the legal clinic he visited in last week’s episode. Nathan, who runs said legal clinic, shows up at Mike’s apartment to offer him a job because he was impressed by Mike’s work on past cases and by the fact that he was honest on his job application. But, more importantly, Mike’s past means Nathan doesn’t have to pay him well at all to supervise all of the lawyers and law students at the clinic.
Nathan neglects to tell everyone at the clinic about Mike’s past, so pretty much everyone just thinks he’s a former Pearson Specter Litt lawyer who couldn’t handle corporate life and is slumming it there until he can return. His biggest opponent is Marissa, a very confident law student who refuses Mike’s help on a case she’s working on. Mike spends most of the episode trying to work with her and win her respect.
Realizing he won’t succeed at this job unless his subordinates respect him, Mike decides to come clean about his time spent pretending to be a lawyer. It’s a big gambit, but it convinces them that Mike is actually there to help people and is not just another corporate lawyer. Marissa comes to Mike with a clever plan to save a woman from getting evicted from her apartment for not paying rent because the landlord refused to address the apartment’s many issues, but alas, it fails in court, and the judge grants landlord the permission to evict this woman and her child.
Seeing no other option, Mike steps up the plate and puts what little money he has where his mouth is. He shows up at the woman’s home with a check that will cover all of the back rent and allow her to stay in her apartment for a few more months while they continue to work on her case. It’s a bold move, but it’s nothing we wouldn’t expect from this bleeding heart who is desperate to make a difference in the world.
At the moment, I’m cautiously optimistic about spending time in this legal clinic world. As introduced in tonight’s episode, Marissa and Oliver aren’t the most interesting characters in the world, but there’s some hope that they could develop into something more. The biggest problem is the show needs to provide Mike and the legal clinic with genuinely compelling cases that challenge Mike in a way that he’s never been challenged before — while also developing this new environment. Tonight’s case involving the eviction was rather half-baked. Thankfully, we had the Specter Family Reunion to keep us hooked for the hour.
Best Suit of the Night: Every version of Casual Harvey we saw tonight.