'Suits' Recap and Review: 'Meet the New Boss' (2.03)

June 28th, 2012 11:11pm EDT

Suits The deconstruction of ​Suits​ continues in this week's episode, where we really start to see the nefarious (I can think of no better word) Daniel Hardman make moves within the firm that bears his name and the show is bolstered by a top-flight guest star. It's another week where USA's top original series continues to take chances, and that so far has been a winning formula.

Mike gets home to find his grandmother sitting on his couch, and realizes that he missed a planned dinner with her. She quips that he doesn't care about her, and he retorts "That's why I put you in a home." Touche, Mr. Ross.

Jessica formally introduces Hardman at a staff meeting, and when he says she's still the head of the firm, you know he doesn't really believe that. We move on to the firm's needing to settle an impending nurses' strike at Prescott Hospital, which she handed to Harvey. Hardman wants to help with it, and invites himself over to Harvey's office to do that. "I'm just glad to have someone in the room who pisses you off more than I do," Harvey quips before he finds out he's still in trouble with Jessica. She wants him to put Hardman in his place.

Harvey shows up in Hardman's office and hands him a random ​pro bono​ case to distract him. "When you stick your nose in my cases, that's another story," he says, reminding Hardman that he doesn't need his help. "I respect him, but I don't work for you, and I sure as hell don't work with you." He then proceeds to gloat over settling the nurses' strike fairly quickly, but unfortunately, his opponent is head nurse Nell (the award-winning Margo Martindale, previously Mags Bennett on ​Justified​). She rejects their proposal, leading Harvey to decide to seek an injunction.

Meanwhile, Louis is in his office plotting evil things to do to Harold when Jessica arrives and tells him there are issues with the treatment of their associates, so much so that Harvard wants to rescind their on-campus recruiting privileges. Louis freaks out and tells the associates to convince a rep from Harvard, Sheila Sazs (that's Rachael Harris) that everything is lovely at the firm. Mike refers to Sheila as "female Louis."

Hardman shows up in court as Harvey's prepared to argue for his injunction; seems he beat Harvey to the punch and got a temporary restraining order, which was exactly what Harvey ​didn't​ want. The look of pure anger on Harvey's face is another example of how Gabriel Macht can say so much without verbalizing anything. "Would you like me to thank your face with my fist?" Harvey snaps outside the courthouse, to which Hardman retorts that he shouldn't mistake change for weakness. He's clearly got an evil plan up his sleeve, but that's no surprise given the previous two episodes.

Annoyed, Harvey goes to the hospital where his new BFF Nell tells him Hardman was already there. He is unbothered by this and continues to put the pressure on, encouraging her to let the nurses strike and see how long they last. "What the hell is wrong with you?" Hardman asks when he finds out, as that's exactly what he ​didn't​ want to happen. "People say I'm emotionally unavailable," Harvey quips, but Hardman is not impressed. Instead, after Harvey mentions Mike had the same idea about going after a TRO, Hardman calls Mike into his office. He wants Mike to go to Nell and see what she needs to close the deal - essentially negotiating behind Harvey's back.

Meanwhile, trying to get Rachel out of her post-breakup with Mike funk, Donna takes her to a bar and the two of them basically pretend to be female versions of Harvey and Mike. It's the episode's stroke of comic relief, and it's good for a few laughs. Meanwhile, Sheila starts to interview all the Pearson Hardman associates, and bonds with Louis - which is why she tells him that the associates don't respect him. This visibly affects him, which is a nice reminder that Louis is not a one-dimensional villain.

When Mike tells Harvey that he knows what Nell wants to end the strike thanks to said back-channel negotiations, Harvey has another confrontation with Hardman, this one in the bathroom. He's infuriated for a variety of reasons, including that he believes the quoted $10 million won't really solve the problem. Hardman's response to Harvey's tirade is to call Mike into his office for another chat, while Louis wanders around dictating stuff to his assistant in the empty bullpen. Harvey overhears him and wants to know what's happening; when Louis tells him what Rachel said, Harvey has a moment of compassion and gives him a pep talk. "I'm only going to say this once, so you better enjoy it: you're the man," he says, before walking out. Typical Harvey, and yet, oddly sweet at the same time. Too bad Louis was recording that conversation and can now play that soundbite back to his heart's content.

Meanwhile, Mike discovers Rachel's new profile and she catches him looking at it, but is surprised when he starts giving her advice on what to write in it. It's clear from what he says that he's still got feelings for her and plenty of guilt over dumping her. You didn't really expect the show to drop that subplot, did you?

The next morning, Louis puts all the associates in their place, reminding them that their grunt work is how they learn to be good lawyers, and if they don't like it they can all go elsewhere. Mike is surprised to find that Hardman is walking him into a meeting with both Harvey and Nell. Harvey's got a handful of pink slips in his hand, and is prepared to fire all the nurses who are working past their scheduled times if Nell doesn't sign the new contract. She knows he got that information from Mike and that, in turn, makes both her and Mike upset. When Mike confronts Harvey, Harvey pushes right back. "I know you don't like this part of a job, but it's part of he job," he says, but Mike retorts that all Harvey wants is really to beat Hardman, and that he doesn't want to be caught in the middle of their feud ever again.

As if Mike hasn't had a bad enough day, Rachel shows up at his apartment and demands to know why she broke up with him. She doesn't buy the excuse he gave her the last episode, and has sussed out that he's keeping something from her. He insists that he can't tell her because "once I tell you, I can never take it back. This is my everything." She isn't placated and tearfully leaves him standing on the street, frustrated.

While Harvey and Jessica are content with the nurses' strike being settled, Hardman shows up to apologize and Jessica reminds him that he's been starting trouble before he even walked back in the door. He goes awkward again and after he leaves, Harvey gives Jessica a look that clearly reads as "You don't believe that, do you?" Jessica then goes to visit Louis and tell him how impressed she was with his speech to the associates. She asks him if there's something wrong, and he tells her that he'd like the chance to rise to the occasion once in awhile.

That evening, Harvey calls Mike into his office for story time. He explains that when he and Jessica found out about what Hardman had done, Hardman broke down during the resulting confrontation, saying he needed the money for his wife rather than his mistress. As a result, Harvey can't trust him - but he trusts Mike enough to give him that information. While Mike ponders that and visits his grandmother one more time, Rachel has gotten the confidence to pursue her law degree again.

As with the ​Burn Notice​ episode before it, this week's ​Suits​ plays a lot with the people around its leads, and that's always great to see, because it fleshes out a show's universe. Let's give some kudos to David Costabile for, in three episodes, making a villain that we ​do​ want to see Harvey punch in the face. I've always maintained that a hero deserves - and needs - a villain of equal measure to conflict with, and in Hardman, it looks like we have that for both Harvey and Jessica. Watching Hardman be knocked down, whenever and however it happens, already feels like it's going to be sweet, and that's just one more thing to keep the show's audience excited.

Then there's Margo Martindale. I'm not sure how many adjectives I have left to describe how great this woman is; I may have burned through them all when she was on ​Justified​. To be able to not just hold her own, but to push back against the likes of Timothy Olyphant and now Gabriel Macht? That is no small order, and it's a pleasure to watch her every time she turns up.

And Rick Hoffman deserves some praise as well for continuing to develop Louis Litt. It's true that Louis is the character that we love to dislike (I think hate might be too strong a word at this point), and that he's often the show's comic relief in how he's put in his place by Harvey or otherwise. Louis could easily be a caricature: the embodiment of the sleazeball lawyer, just there to be a thorn in our heroes' side now and again. To see in this episode that he can be hurt and affected ike everyone else gave him that extra bit of depth. ​Suits​ doesn't play with caricatures, and what happens with Louis in this episode is proof of that.

Here's the thing, and I'm sure ​Suits​ fans may also have something to say about this: I am not a passive television viewer. I don't tune in and then tune out. I'm looking for an experience - for characters I give a damn about, for scripts that I remember after the show is over, for something that makes me better for having seen it. This show does that. I can tell from watching it how much work is put into it, in every aspect, and in turn that makes me more invested in watching it because when I can tell a cast and crew cares, that makes me want to care. This episode continues to build the ​Suits​ universe, and that's one of the best things I can ask for from TV right now.

For more from Brittany Frederick, follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

Related: Gabriel Macht, Patrick J. Adams, Suits, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Drama, USA

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