1. She Knows
How's that for an ominous episode title? She knows. And she's really none too pleased about it either. We speak of course of head honcho Jessica Pearson, who's discovered that Mike's been fibbing on his CV (you know, the bit about how's he a qualified lawyer). It's all thanks to Mike's bitter, back-stabbing rat of a friend Trevor, who spilled the beans in the season one finale. See Mike, that's what you get for fooling around with your drug-addled pal's ex-girlfriend.
Luckily, Jessica's so fond of Mike that she decides to let the cheeky scamp stay on anyway. Only kidding – she wants that lying young punk out of there, pronto. Awkwardly, it's Harvey who's tasked with giving him his marching orders. There's also the little matter of Daniel Hardman – Hardman as in Pearson Hardman – who's returning to the firm after years away, and it's fair to say Jessica and Harvey aren't breaking out the Champagne and party poppers at the prospect…
2. The Choice
Welcome back, Daniel Hardman! Is precisely the opposite of what Jessica's thinking, as her old partner prepares to settle into life after his half-decade "spending time with his family". Harvey hates the guy too, although the exact reasons for this epic disgruntlement are still a little hazy. Perhaps Hardman's knowledge of Star Trek and bad 80s bands isn't up to scratch? Well, whatever – the fact is that civil war is brewing, with Jessica having to do some serious schmoozing with colleagues to win support against Team Hardman.
Trouble is, schmoozing isn't exactly her strong suit – she's a bit too Devil Wears Hugo Boss for that – but luckily Harvey's on hand to work his slick-haired charm. His first port of call is the firm's Bankruptcy department, which he intends to win over to Jessica's side by helping them out with a pain-in-the-ass client. The only snag is that, being Harvey, he can't help but throw his weight around and try to take over the entire case, much to everyone's annoyance. Way to win brownie points for Jessica, Harv.
3. Meet the New Boss
So with Hardman now back and the atmosphere at the firm being about as relaxed as a packed elevator in which someone has secretly expelled a potent fart, the last thing anyone needs is a massive case of forehead-clutching complexity. So of course that's exactly what they get, when they're called on to prevent nurses from striking at a local hospital.
Which is all the excuse Hardman and Harvey need to completely disagree and basically lock horns like the two growling alpha-animals they are. The question is whether Harvey can stop wanting to punch Hardman in the face long enough to actually sort the hospital mess out. Meanwhile, Louis Litt – the office's equivalent of a bungling, fist-waving panto villain – has to deal with the fall-out from a trade journal article that blasts Pearson Hardman for basically being a bit of a crappy place to work. Perish the very thought…
If the waters were getting a little choppy for Harvey already, he sails into a full-blown superstorm in this episode. It turns out there IS something worse than Daniel Hardman. No, not tertiary syphilis. We're talking about Mr Travis Tanner, lawyer, adversary and mobile arse-ache. Last seen in season one, Tanner's back on the warpath, claiming that one of Harvey's old clients, Coastal Motors, was well aware of a defect in their cars which led to a man's death. Now Tanner's alleging that Harvey withheld a secret memo containing this information, meaning Pearson Hardman are implicated in the fraud. Meaning they can be sued.
It's fair to say Harvey doesn't take this too well, and doesn't even believe any such memo exists. If there's one person who can shed light on the matter it’s loyal underling Donna, who would have handled such a document. If it indeed exists. Which it doesn't, right? Meanwhile, in a slightly less disastrous but just-as-startling development, Mike and Louis end up working together on a case – and actually seem to like each other. Could a new bromance be on the cards?
5. Break Point
A rather unusual case lands with a thump on Pearson Hardman's desks. There's this young tennis prodigy who feels his professional career's being scuppered by his dad, and wants to become legally emancipated. Ordinarily, this would be enough for any Suits episode to be getting along with, but the real story is still the Coastal Motors memo uproar, which refuses to go away. In fact, to paraphrase a popular sweary slogan, this excrement's just got substantive, with Pearson Hardman bringing in an outside lawyer to help them prepare for the lawsuit.
This naturally gets Harvey's back up, while Donna continues to have an emotional implosion over her own connection with the phantom memo. It leads to an utterly electrifying confrontation with Harvey (one of the season's single best scenes) and her very career looks to be in jeopardy. Hell, even Harvey might get canned if things carry on like this. Say it ain't so, Suits!
6. All In
When you're facing career meltdown, when your entire organisation might be wrecked by a memo you may or may not have lurking somewhere in your archives, then the best thing to do is get the hell out of there. And that's what Harvey does in this episode, heading over to Atlantic City with Mike in tow.
A kind of Poundland version of Vegas, Atlantic City is where they meet with Harvey's old pal Keith Hoyt, who manages to gamble away his entire company in a single poker game. And you thought your boss was inept. But never mind, because Harvey has a plan. A plan worthy of a professional of his calibre, tapping all his skills as a long-time practitioner of corporate law. He's going to win the company back in another poker game. Ah.
7. Sucker Punch
It's not often that Louis Litt gets to actually enjoy himself at work – he's usually too busy gnashing his teeth and sticking daggers into his Harvey-shaped voodoo doll (we haven't any definitive proof he actually does the latter, but let's just assume it). All that changes when Pearson Hardman put on a mock trial to warm up for the big lawsuit, and Louis plays the role of Travis Tanner. That means he gets to put Harvey and Jessica "on the stand" and lay into them in full view of the whole firm – which is pretty much the Louis-equivalent of being asked to become Hugh Hefner for the day.
Plus Mike gets strapped into a lie detector and asked about his past. How that ends up happening, and how he expects to not spill his dark secrets, we're not saying. But we can reveal that the episode also features a guest appearance from one Jacinda Barrett, who happens to be the real-life wife of Gabriel Macht, aka Harvey Specter. Watch those sparks fly.
As Pearson Hardman has a slow, collective nervous breakdown about the Coastal Motors memo and the very real possibility of being sued all to hell, this episode provides a little bit of a breather. It whisks us five years back in time, to the days when Mike was still a stoned slacker and Harvey was a mere senior associate with his eye on the big leagues.
It's a playful little episode – look out for the bit where Mike and Harvey pass each other on the street, and Mike's withering take on his future mentor. But there's a lot of interesting plot-stuff here as well, with revelations on how Mike started sitting people's exams for money, and how the younger, even-more-shark-like Harvey managed to oust Daniel Hardman from the firm. Prepare to watch the master at work.
If there's one person who's actively benefited from the whole memo-disaster, it's Louis. As well as getting to play-act as Tanner and unload all his rage on his hated superiors, he's now gets to enjoy the rather strange feeling of being… wanted. Desired. Needed. Not sexually, we're relieved to report, but professionally. His support is essential to both Hardman and Jessica, whose battle for leadership of the firm is coming to a head.
Faithful to Jessica as ever, Harvey now has to swallow his own ego (yeah, we know) and try to win Louis' loyalty. It turns out he might not have to, however, as Louis discovers something about Hardman that threatens to terminate their alliance. As for Mike – well, he has issues of his own, and they're as personal as they come.
10. High Noon
There's never been a more aptly-titled episode than this, because – after nine episodes of civil war (or cold war, depending on which military analogy you want to go with), the battle with Daniel Hardman is about to end, with one of them about to take full control of Pearson Hardman. But there are still secrets about to explode, and there's even a new potential love interest for Mike.
And if all that sounds gripping, the episode also gives us the sight of Harvey Specter – New York's most feared and brilliant closer – high on drugs. It ain't big and it ain't clever, but it's bloody hilarious.
So, that nasty Hardman business looks like it's been put to bed, but Mike's personal life is still a mess. There's his affair with the very married Tess on the one hand, and his get-on-with-it-already non-romance with Rachel on the other. But guess who else is enjoying some sexy time? Louis Litt. Oh yes. Prepare to see things that will stain your soul forever.
Back in the boardrooms there are some serious shenanigans going on, with Pearson Hardman asked to defend the reckless son of a client who's facing serious jail time for a hit-and-run. Mike's own parents were killed by a drunk driver, lest we forget, so surely he won't be the one handling the case. Right?
12. Blood in the Water
You know when you have a really, really bad day at work? Now put that feeling on steroids and you've got this episode. Everyone's in a foul mood, snapping at each other like impeccably attired Pez dispensers. Matters aren't helped by the fact that a rival firm is ruthlessly poaching the best peeps from Pearson Hardman. The cheek.
Harvey and Louis – whose friendship wouldn't exactly count as the bromance of the year at the best of times – are particularly vicious to each other, and Louis actually considers jumping ship. Yep, it looks like he's finally grown a pair.
13. Zane vs Zane
Rachel doesn't often get big wedges of plot to herself, but this episode's all about young Ms Zane. In fact, to use a comparison Harvey might approve of, there's a bit of Skywalker-Vader angst going on, as she's up against the looming, vaguely villainous figure of her own father, Robert Zane. (Played by Wendell Pierce from The Wire, much to every right-thinking person's excitement.)
Zane Senior is taking over a big gender discrimination case, seriously annoying Harvey by undercutting a deal Harvey had already agreed with Zane's predecessor. Look, you'll have to watch it for the full details, but basically it's time for Rachel to get all Freudian and help Harvey take down her own daddy. Which, as you can imagine, gets very complicated very quickly.
14. He's Back
Cue the Imperial March. The biggest of the big bads, the Moriarty, the Blofeld, the Megatron of Suits has returned. Did you really think Daniel Hardman was going to slink away into his little hidey-hole after the previous furore? Oh no. He's determined to take down his old company, picking up the gender discrimination case from Robert Zane.
He also puts in a "wrongful termination" lawsuit against Pearson Hardman for good measure, alleging they had unjustly fired a woman who'd worked there. A woman he'd happened to be having an affair with. Things are about to get ugly, but there's a wonderful moment when Donna gets her revenge on Hardman for setting her up over memo-gate. Watch and applaud.
There's no dressing it up: things are looking very bleak indeed for the firm. They're up to their starched white collars in cases, but they just don't have the money or resources to cope. And Hardman's discrimination is still advancing, like The Nothing from The Never-Ending Story.
It's time to bring in reinforcements. And that means Harvey's old flame, Dana Scott, who comes with the backing of a British law firm (do they all have cut-glass English accents straight out of Downton Abbey? You bet they do). They can help the company beat off Hardman for good, but they want a big fat merger in return. Harvey's not going to like this one bit.
It's season finale time. Sad face. Even worse, Harvey and Jessica hate each other. Not in a playful, they'll-get-over-it kind of way. They're at each other's throats over the proposed merger with the British firm, with Harvey furious that he may miss out on the chance to rename the company Pearson Specter.
Not about to take things lying down, Harvey decides to take on the invaders with legal action, staking everything on the outcome. Meanwhile, is Mike about to confess his deep dark secret (you know, the one about how he's not actually a lawyer) to Rachel? People in suits chatting in stock rooms has never been more nerve-racking.