Suits treated fans to a Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) appearance in season 9 episode 5, but instead of the familiar charming character who has always follows his moral compass, we're dealt a different version of the character - someone who's reminiscent of the ruthless Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) from early seasons. While this may sound great considering Harvey was technically Mike's mentor, it's a huge disservice to the character.
One of the lead characters of Suits when it debuted in 2011, Mike's journey from a fake lawyer to a real one was a tumultuous one. Refusing to let Harvey take the blame for their scheme, he took the fall and paid for it by spending time inside jail, but thanks to Jessica's (Gina Torres) help, Mike was able to practice law legally while Harvey got off scot-free. The trajectory of Mike's arc made an unexpected turn when he had to exit the show in light of on-screen partner, Meghan Markle's (who plays Rachel) retirement in preparation for her marriage to Prince Harry. So, instead of breaking up, the series wrote out the two together by crafting a convenient, albeit sketchy ploy to have them move to Seattle and head a victim-oriented legal firm.
A season and a handful of episodes after, Mike was back in New York City. But while everyone was happy to see a familiar friendly face especially given the situation at the firm, his return only made things more complicated. After some pleasantries, it turned out Mike was actually in town because he's suing Harvey and Samantha's (Katherine Heigl) client for exploiting overseas workers. The athlete plaintiff, however, was only using this to get out of his contract with Brick Street Athletics so he can bet their competition. In the end, Mike emerged victorious, although he did it in a conniving way, setting up his former co-workers so either scenario would put him ahead. Interestingly, however, Harvey was okay with losing. In fact, he was even proud of Mike for beating him despite the way he did it.
Sadly, it's a disappointing character progression for Mike, who now seems to care more about winning than genuinely looking out for the greater good. This particular trait was what always separated him from Harvey, creating an exciting dynamic between the two. It was Harvey who was willing to push the limits just as long as he wins a case - a concept that he pretty much drilled in Mike's head. Yet, throughout the years they worked together, Mike was able to maintain his core values, albeit a few times when he had no choice but to be a co-conspirator with other key players in Suits. This subtle but significant turn around in character is made worse by the fact that Mike and Rachel supposedly left behind their lofty NYC jobs to run a Seattle firm that solely focuses on class-action lawsuits. It was the perfect middle ground for Mike, who was struggling with balancing his work between his time practicing corporate law and providing legal help to those who are in need to the clinic he previously worked for.
With Harvey mellowing down on his ways - both personally and professionally, it seems like Mike is treading the opposite trajectory. He was only expected to appear a single episode in the final season, but there's still a chance he returns for the Suits series finale. And it will be interesting how the show will cap off his character journey given what he has become.
Suits season 9 airs Wednesday nights on USA.