Before leaving town for the day, Harvey puts Mike up to a rather questionable task. To understand it, we need to go back five years, which, fortunately, we do. In those days, Harvey was a lowly senior associate, Louis was still junior partner, and Jessica still looked up to her mentor, Daniel Hardman. Which is why she asked Harvey to quietly find out who was embezzling money from their clients, so she could impress the managing partner with her problem-solving skills. Of course we in 2012 already know damn well who was skimming, but Harvey agreed to do it, if Jessica agreed to make him partner. Harvey's initial investigation pointed to Louis, but after he turned up innocent, Harvey asked for Louis's help. And discovered that the embezzler was, as we already know, Hardman. Jessica confronted Hardman, who, as we also know, claimed the money was for his dying wife's cancer treatments. So Jessica was inclined to let it slide.
As for young Mike Ross, he was a lowly pothead bike messenger and still roommates with then-small-time weed dealer Trevor. The two of them went out one night and met a couple of young women. Mike hit off with the blonde, Jenny, but circumstances conspired to land him a date with her roommate Nikki instead. I say "circumstances" when I mean Trevor and Nikki, because Trevor ended up dating Jenny (as we know) and Nikki only wanted Mike to use his circus-freak brain to take the LSATs for her. Mike rode his high-horse out of there, but went back upon discovering that his aging Grammy wasn't going to be able to stay alone in her apartment much longer and he was going to need some cash.
It looked like Hardman's malfeasance was going to blow over, until Donna learned a tidbit of info from a young intern named Rachel Zane: junior associate Monica Eaton had a questionable window blocked off on her weekly schedule. That led Harvey to bust Hardman and Monica at their love nest, at which point Harvey blackmailed Hardman into resigning on the spot. But no sooner did Harvey get back to the firm than he learned that his father had died of a heart attack. Mellow: harshed. But the good news that Jessica not only made him partner, she gave him her office. And then Jacinda (remember her from last week?) leaves, because of what Harvey is turning into. Mellow: harshed again, but not as much.
In the present, Mike plays his part: he meets with Monica Eaton and hands her a wrongful termination lawsuit on her behalf. The meeting is witnessed by Louis, who goes right to Hardman. Who in turn confronts Jessica, who in turn yells at Mike over it. They have a whole argument in the hallway in which dozens of employees hear the sordid story of Hardman's affair, so maybe that'll get some votes going Jessica's way, even if Rachel is pissed at Mike for his scheming.
And while Mike and Jessica and Louis and Hardman and Rachel and Monica are going through all this in Manhattan, Harvey takes a train upstate and visits his father's grave. Mellow: haaaaarshed. But then when he returns, he announces to Jessica that he's getting Donna back. Hot damn. I'll get the can opener.
Mike rides his bike across town to meet a tieless Harvey at a cavernous marble building that I guess is supposed to be Grand Central Station. In a scene shot from waist level -- like this show has been taken over by the crew of White Collar -- Harvey tells Mike he's taking the day off (sending Mike into a Ferris Bueller quote-off) and asks what Mike thinks of Hardman's chances of becoming managing partner. "You don't call for a vote unless you have the votes," Mike figures. Harvey agrees and says they need to tip the scales in Jessica's favor, but Mike's not going to like it and Jessica can't know. Mike wonders if they're going to cross a line. "We've been crossing lines long before we even ever met," Harvey says. So that's a yes, then.
Harvey rides a train alone, staring out the window at the pastoral scenery and smiling at a dad and a young boy negotiating the aisle. And without further ado, it's suddenly "FIVE YEARS AGO" per the subtitle on the screen. Everything's ever-so-slightly yellowish to indicate we're in the past, but not yellow enough to be, say, those Traffic scenes set in Mexico. Harvey's walking through the firm, making confident sports predictions into his cell phone (which I assume will be totally ironic to anyone who remembers anything about 2007 sports) and hearing from Donna about a call from his proud papa and the news that Louis is getting a secretary named Norma. "She won't last a week. You heard it here first." The ironic predictions are thick on the ground in 2007, aren't they? And then she mentions that Jessica's on her way. Harvey calls her on burying the lede. "I'm not apologizing for who I am," she says, wide-eyed.
Five-years-younger Mike -- whose forehead is as big as it is in 2012 -- is about to leave for his bike messenger job when Trevor shows up with a bag of joints and some profane insults to share, as well as A Few Good Men quotes, which Mike was into even back then. Ah, when they were still dysfunctional best friends. And roommates, apparently. It's kind of anachronistic though, because I don't think there was that much swearing on USA in 2007.
Jessica appears in Harvey's office with the very heavy news that "somebody" has been stealing from clients' escrow accounts. Of course, we in 2012 already know it was Hardman, but Jessica wants Harvey to quietly look into it so she can bring her then-boss a solution instead of a problem. Harvey agrees, but says that in return, he's done being an associate. He had an office -- albeit a smaller one -- and Donna, when he was still an associate? What's he bitching about?