As promised (threatened), Daniel Hardman shows up to take on the gender discrimination cases that Pearson Hardman is bringing against Folsom Foods. Except, oops, he's also there to prosecute a wrongful termination suit against Pearson Hardman on behalf of Monica Eaton -- the very woman Jessica fired for having an affair with Hardman back in the day. Seems like this would be a slam dunk, but Jessica and the firm are hamstrung by a confidentiality agreement that Hardman made her sign when he left the firm. Which means Jessica can't tell anyone the real reason she fired Monica Eaton. That's bad enough, but then Hardman makes Monica's firing about gender, which pretty much screws Pearson Hardman on those gender discrimination suits. Win-win for Hardman, the jerk.
Not that anyone at the firm is taking it lying down. Jessica's in full raptor mode, refusing to negotiate or settle despite Harvey's advice to do so. Mike takes it upon himself to try to persuade Monica Eaton to drop the suit, unsuccessfully. Donna actually bitch-slaps Hardmanâ€¦ twice. Louis tries to mend fences with Harvey by offering his help, only to learn that his pathetic crush on Monica years ago has been trumped up into sexual harassment in her wrongful termination claim, leading him to literally threaten Hardman with death.
But through all of the maneuvering -- legal and otherwise -- Hardman remains one step ahead of them (and sometimes two). At least until Mike convinces Monica to settle on behalf of all the gender discrimination plaintiffs she'll be screwing if she proceeds with the suit.
Meanwhile, Rachel is applying to Harvard Law School and Jessica is trying to convince Rachel's dad that Daniel Hardman is bad news. She goes so far as to bring up that merger offer he mentioned last week, but he's no longer interested -- he plans to have Daniel Hardman beat her in court instead.
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After some previouslies that go back five years, we slam into the present day, with Daniel Hardman in the Pearson Hardman conference room. Yes his beardedness is back, after ironically being just about the only man in Lincoln without any facial hair at all. His name's still on the wall of the elevator lobby in the background, and he's deposing Sloane Moseley, the gender discrimination plaintiff who was Harvey and Mike's client last week and apparently still is, because they're at the table as well. He's quizzing her about the executives at her company when he suddenly pivots to the question of gender equality among the senior partners at Pearson Hardman. Mike protests that it isn't relevant, which Hardman says it is, but Harvey says this is supposed to be about Folsom Foods. Hardman feigns confusion and clarifies that the suit they're discussing is in fact against Pearson Hardman, and this is all just a charade so he can serve them with subpoenas for a wrongful termination suit for ten million dollars. Harvey hotly says Hardman is lucky he's not in jail, let alone in any position to sue for wrongful termination, but Mike, actually reading the paperwork, says the suit is on behalf of Monica Eaton, the former Pearson Hardman employee that Hardman was having an affair with -- the very affair Harvey used to blackmail Hardman out of the firm these five years ago. Hardman says it was Mike's idea in the first place. "What this firm did to that woman was unconscionable." Yes, I believe she got screwed by both Pearson and Hardman, albeit in different ways.
Harvey and Hardman take this to Jessica, who calls Hardman a piece of shit. Harvey threatens that if this goes to trial, they'll tell the jury about Hardman's affair with Monica. Which is when Hardman plays his ace: that confidentiality agreement that Jessica signed the night Hardman left. He says this isn't for him, but or Monica Eaton, who wants payback after the suit Mike Ross brought her during the summer episodes. Jessica asks Harvey to escort Hardman out, and he does, but the look he gives Jessica indicates that they'll be having some discussions about that confidentiality agreement.
On the way out, Hardman smugs to Harvey that Mike's complaint was so well-written he only had to search-and-replace the name Daniel Hardman to Anonymous. You're a jerk, Daniel, but I have to admit I enjoyed your book Primary Colors Harvey in turn reveals that Lawrence Kemp never signed the affidavit that he and Mike used to force Hardman out. "Must stick in your craw, having to walk by my name day after day," Hardman taunts right back. Harvey tries to claim that he had to hold Jessica back from changing the sign, but Hardman knows that Jessica wouldn't make Harvey partner, because she doesn't trust Harvey. "She didn't tell you about the confidentiality agreement, did she?" Hardman says as the elevator doors close on him. Well, no. It's confidential, duh.
After credits and ads, Harvey does indeed come back to yell at Jessica over the confidentiality agreement and tell her that it means they'll have to settle. Jessica refuses, and asks Harvey what Hardman said to him. Harvey relays Hardman's prediction that she'd never put Harvey's name on the door. Jessica in turn informs Harvey that Hardman told her Harvey would come after her someday. "I let it go because I knew he was just trying to get into my head the same way he's trying to get into your head now." Harvey asks how she thinks her deposition will go when the agreement prevents her from telling her side, and all she says is that she's trusting Harvey to beat Hardman. Again.
Mike comes to Rachel in her office to ask for her help with something personal. She says she's working on something personal of her own, and shows him the Harvard application on her screen. She's stressing out about it, as she always does over matters academic, and Mike's no help with his usual loosey-goosey attitude. She insists that it has to be Harvard, because of course that's the only way she'll be able to come back to work at Pearson Hardman after law school. Rather than telling her that a lack of a Harvard degree wasn't such an obstacle for him, Mike offers her some help. She declines, and he leaves, having decided to do his thing on his own.
Louis intercepts Donna in the hallway and asks for her help getting on the Monica Eaton case. Sure, Hardman made Louis and Donna both look like idiots and they both want revenge, but Donna insists this is Harvey's fight. Louis admits that he never apologized to Harvey. Donna tells Louis not to sweat it, and that "success is the best revenge." "Bullshit," Louis says. "Revenge is the best revenge." I also find that tautologies are the best tautologies.
Mike catches up with Harvey leaving the building at "only 10:30," waving Hardman's non-compete. Harvey explains how that's a dead end that Hardman wants them to waste time scurrying down, so Mike reaches into his stack of papers for more on Monica Eaton. Harvey reminds Mike he's not even on this case, and Mike protests that it's a suit he wrote himself, so he's taking it personally. As opposed to every other case ever. Harvey says that's Hardman getting into Mike's head. "This isn't your fault, we did this together. Sorry, those papers can't help me and neither can you." With that, he rides off into the night.
Jessica rings the front doorbell of a fancy mansion and is a bit surprised when Rachel answers the door. Rachel's surprised too, but after a moment of awkwardness, Rachel directs Jessica to the room where her dad is watching the game on the DVR. Jessica and Zane banter a bit, and Jessica warns Zane to ditch Hardman before it's too late, saying he doesn't know the kind of man he's in bed with. All Zane knows is that Hardman left the firm to take care of his sick wife and got forced out when he came back. Jessica says that's only part of the story, but of course she can't say more. "You signed a confidentiality agreement," Zane quickly realizes. He asks her how much it would cost her to violate it, guessing that it would be millions. "Fifteen," Jessica confirms. Rather than offering to cover it, Zane smugly says that he's clearly in bed with a man who's got Jessica by the balls. This is becoming a very crowded bed.
Harvey is also visiting a mansion, but this one belongs to some judge. He doesn't want to talk about the case, but Harvey's always ready with a veiled blackmail threat. Harvey explains about the confidentiality agreement, and asks how the judge would rule if there were a sealed hearing to throw it out. The judge says he can't punish the client for choosing the wrong attorney, which he seems to know with confidence is a case the attorney in question would make. Harvey realizes he isn't the judge's first visitor, and the judge confirms that Hardman came by two weeks ago. "Sorry, Harvey." Hardman must have blackmailed him better.
The next day, Hardman walks into the Pearson Hardman offices, past his name still on the wall. The receptionist at the front desk turns out to be Donna, apparently filling in at this post so she can call Hardman an asshole to his face. Which she does, before escorting him to the conference room. The one that turns out to be Hardman's old office. "It took a while to feng shui the evil out," she chirps pleasantly. Hardman tries to talk to her, only to get an abrupt bitch-slap as she spits, "You piece of shit." She offers to throw down right here, asking, "Are you gonna sue me? Because I don't think anybody here is gonna testify." Hardman says he never meant to hurt her. "You mean when you planted that memo and got me fired?" she asks. Hardman denies having done any such thing, "And any implication otherwise from within this firm is actionable." He adds that whoever planted it, if she'd just turned it in like she should have, she would have suffered nothing worse than a scolding. "And Harvey's career would have been over," she points out ."So it really is like that between the two of you," Hardman smarms, earning himself another slap. Hardma