Power struggles abounded on Suits this week, and not a minute was wasted in "Meet the New Boss" before Daniel Hardman made his presence felt, even as innocently as he tried to frame it.
The one thing I'm loving and hating about this season, even early on, are the ways in which the return of Hardman has strained and challenged the relationships that built this show.
Whereas Harvey and Jessica ended Suits Season 1 as tight as you can imagine a firm head and senior partner to be, here - with Mike's secret threatening their careers and the future of the firm in the face of Hardman's return - we see them at odds with one another more than ever.
Furthermore, Harvey has also placed himself in the middle of what will no doubt be an epic feud between Pearson and Hardman that could split the firm and its loyalties for good.
The one thing I don't understand, though, is why Jessica and Harvey went on the offensive in the first place. I can't help but wonder what might have happened if they had left him alone. In many ways, it feels like his only purpose in returning was to upset the apple cart, which he has managed to do... and then some.
Trouble has only managed to trickle down from Jessica and Mike to Harvey, both for placing him in the middle of Harvey and Daniel's beef, but also in his relationship with Rachel. If the urgency to cloak Mike's secret hadn't emerged so abruptly and untimely, perhaps he and Rachel could have navigated the hurdle and Mike could have been honest with her. Jessica and Harvery's desperation to maintain propriety forced Mike's hand in the other direction.
Unfortunately, as evidenced by tonight's episode, all of that positioning will come at a severe price, mainly their humanity. Have you noticed how cutthroat they have been with their clients lately?
Last week, Mike mediated a dispute between a publishing company and an employee, forcing them into a settlement and leaving her without credit for work that was hers. This week Harvey used the information Mike got from meeting with Nell as a weapon against the hospital nurses to one-up Hardman.
Not surprisingly, the optimism and altruism that the firm bathed in last summer has turned the corner in the wake of Hardman's return, and it is not a pretty sight at all.
There were, however, some positives this episode, notably Donna and Rachel. Where every other relationship seems to be fraying at the seams, these two are appearing more and more joined at the hip - and I love it!
Their best moment had to be the sequence in which they took on the identities of Hariot Spector and Michelle Ross and attempted to hit on guys. It was unexpected and epic at once, especially how they spoofed the men from whom the identities were derived.
More highlights from this episode:
- Louis having "You're the man" on repeat. Harvey will regret that if he ever finds out.
- Mike's Match.com essay for Rachel. Epic.
- Rachel confronting Mike at his apartment, even if it broke our hearts to watch.
- Louis' speech to the associates. Mr. Litt at his finest, no question.
- Rachel taking the LSAT again. Fingers crossed, she passes!
- Rachel hitting the nail on the head with Mike about him hiding something from her.
- Donna and Rachel hitting up the bars, these women will do some crazy things with alcohol in their system.
- The ever-clever Edith (Nana) Ross.
- Louis sticking it to Jessica about her lack of support for him.
So, as far as Hardman is concerned, do we buy that he made a scene during the staff meeting over Jessica sitting in his chair, or that he requisitioned Jessica's tea set because it belonged to his late wife?
I'll start: I have no idea what I believe, but I do believe that whatever it is, Jessica and Harvey brought it on themselves.
C. Charles is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.