SUITS Review: “Toe to Toe” Slings the Mud
By Lewis Richards
The return of Harvey’s old adversary Travis Tanner unearthed an intense rivalry this week on USA Network’s Suits, as the episode title “Toe to Toe” suggests.
The episode begins with a morning-after sequence showing Donna in Harvey’s bed. Moments later, we see that Tanner has replaced Harvey, and we realize it’s all a dream sequence. Harvey is then revealed to be in Dr. Agard’s office explaining what happened. However, he chooses to leave out the identity of the woman in his dream. Donna has been forgiven, but clearly not forgotten. Harvey blames the current case he has involving Tanner for the dream, as we know Tanner is one of the few people that can push Harvey’s buttons like no one else.
Harvey aims to enlist Mike in the war on Tanner and claims it will be “just like old times.” Mike, though wary of Harvey’s current condition, decides to join the fight. Knowing of Tanner’s potentially brutal approach, Harvey decides to launch a pre-emptive strike.
Louis is keen to thank Donna for helping him make amends with Harvey and offers to take her mudding. He is disappointed when she declines the invitation. After making progress with Harvey, Louis wants to further prove his loyalty to Harvey by reversing the company’s compensation structure to its original policy.
Donna helps Louis engineer a plan to get Jack Soloff to reverse the compensation policy. Louis aims to persuade Jack with a share of business in signing a big name client and asks Rachel to compile a list of suitable corporate merger deals that he can close.
Harvey and Tanner go “toe to toe” in the conference room but who is the real villain? As Harvey goes in to the meeting all guns blazing, Tanner claims he has no ulterior motives and just wants to make an offer. He does however threaten to retaliate to any low blows that Harvey might plan on dealing.
Harvey reveals this in his therapy and stands by his decision to fight dirty against Tanner while Dr. Agard suggests Harvey’s desire for conflict is a distraction from his own personal issues. Tanner retaliates by blindsiding Harvey and Mike with a loophole in his client, Alyssa Lang’s contract and then counter attacks with a sexual harassment allegation against Harvey’s client, Tim Petrov. A furious Tim tells Harvey to earn his money and “destroy” Alyssa.
Louis and Rachel meanwhile have trouble finding a suitable client to sign. Louis, now desperate, decides that all he needs to do is convince Jack he has signed a big name, even if he hasn’t. Louis cleverly hatches a plan to meet John Delmore in front of Jack and appear to close a deal with him. A seemingly impressed Jack agrees to reverse the policy.
Elsewhere, Mike illegally confronts Alyssa to try and get Tanner fired. Mike assumes it was his idea to go after Tim with a sexual assault claim but is shocked to find out it was Alyssa’s idea, and realizes Tanner may himself have genuinely changed for the better. Mike goes to Harvey who has come up with his own solution to the problem by going after Alyssa and sending her to prison. Mike questions whether Harvey truly wants to go down that road.
A thankful Louis wants a celebratory mud and tries to schmooze Rachel into joining him, again be met with a decline. Louis asks for Jessica’s support in his proposal after believing he has convinced Jack to reverse the compensation policy. Happy that Louis is confident she gives him permission to speak on her behalf. In the board meeting Jack does a U-turn, betraying Louis at the last moment and freezing all policy changes for 12 months, revealing he saw through Louis scheme from the beginning.
The fireworks really start when Tanner confronts Harvey upon finding out about the criminal allegations filed against Alyssa. Tanner finds the button quickly and proceeds to relentlessly jab at it when he mentions Donna and Harvey’s mother. Harvey sees red and POW! Tanner walks away with a bloodied nose.
Dr. Agard probes Harvey on why he was the aggressor in his current conflict with Tanner, suggesting that Tanner mentioning his mother may be linked to his dreams. She catches Harvey out when he is unable to say he has forgiven his mother. The Doctor challenges Harvey to a game of poker to prove he does have a tell.
Tanner contacts Mike and asks to meet. Mike, unable to reach Harvey, seeks guidance from Rachel and reveals the news about Harvey’s panic attacks. She argues that helping Harvey is the priority and he should go to the meeting.
Meanwhile, Queen Jessica puts pressure on Donna about Louis methods of persuasion. Donna is forced to cave, and tells Jessica the truth. Jessica demands that Louis go to see her.
Back in therapy, Harvey beats the doctor and asks her to reveal her biggest mistake as a therapist. She eventually opens up and tells Harvey about a patient’s death for which she was responsible. She expects Harvey to share the identity of the woman in his dream but Harvey is adamant he doesn’t know. When told acceptance is the first step, Harvey stays silent and leaves the office.
Mike meets Tanner who tries to appeal to his kind nature. Mike asks him to prove he has changed. He does. In a surprising development, Mike then shows Harvey that his vendetta against Tanner is actually personal when Tanner removes himself from the case. Harvey realizes this and accepts the offer.
Donna finds Louis hiding in storage as he fears the wrath of Jessica. Donna urges Louis to come clean about everything including leaving Harvey’s salary out for the whole office to see. Louis boldly enters her office and comes clean. Jessica shows why she is the first name on the wall by weaving an intricate plan to use Louis’ actions to her advantage, forcing Jack to back down on his salary policy change.
A newly burden-free Louis is overwhelmed when he learns he is going to finally get to mud with not just Donna but Rachel also!
Harvey finally admits the woman in his dream is Donna but feels betrayed when the doctor replies by telling Harvey her true belief that she thinks the woman is Harvey’s mother. Agard tells Harvey that the reason he is alone is because he is harboring repressed mother issues. Harvey refuses to discuss his mother and storms out.
Harvey has taken a step forward in his progression to resolving his issues and then immediately taken 2 steps backward. Will he be able to get past speaking about his mother? Or, will his anxiety continue to interfere with his work?
Suits continues Wednesdays (9-10 p.m. ET) on USA Network.