So for the entirety of the episode we really only get Harvey’s internal turmoil, Donna only gets a few scenes, which is understandable, it is a season finale & it is titled ‘Harvey’. But the few scenes that we get with Donna still don’t fully explain why at the end of the episode she understands that Harvey is ready to take that next step.
So here is my attempt to explain what I think is going on in Donna’s head.
So first let’s break down the scenes that Donna does have, the very first is obviously happening on the same night as Hardman turning up with the lawsuit, Donna’s conversation with Thomas is there to set up the fact that she didn’t expect her action of telling Thomas he was a stalking horse to cause this much hassle, if Thomas hadn’t put out the press release they could have said that he just got a better deal from his original partner. It also means now, that Thomas is aware of the actually stakes going on.
The proceeding scene with Donna, when she meets up with Harvey after he has gone to Hardman with an offer, gives us a better understanding of her head-space, she is really coming to terms with what her actions have done to the firm, and that they may in fact have repercussions for Harvey specifically.
She wants to take action, to fix what she caused, but is told by Harvey to do nothing, let him and Louis deal with it, and she has learned from the previous episode that she should trust them. The conversation between her and Harvey is not ridiculously tense, but I feel like Donna leaves the conversation with the intent on giving Harvey space.
Now I’m going to mash the next two Donna scenes into the same paragraph as they lead into each other really well.
So we get a glimpse of Donna witnessing Harvey’s physical frustration at the situation when the ethics board hearing is set. Now we don’t know what she was originally heading to Harvey’s office for but it clearly isn’t important enough that she feels she will get through Harvey’s emotions, it also sets up why Alex goes to Donna, and the guilt she feels in the moment.
The conversation with Alex is a very important scene but still not the one that really makes Donna think that Harvey is ready to move forward with her. Alex clearly lays down that Donna was trying to, not quite self sabotage, but to try and distance herself from Harvey & almost say that she doesn’t know him as well as used to, which is why she lost faith in him. I think it is vital here that Donna says she didn’t tell Thomas the information to make Harvey realise that he wanted her.
Finally we get to the scene that I feel we, as a fandom, are only focusing on one aspect of.
Thomas comes to Donna before the hearing, which she says she is getting ready to go to. Thomas explains that he could understand Louis’ motivations for asking him to lie, that it would benefit multiple people. Louis also has a decent history with Thomas, so trying to make an appeal to his business responsibilities makes sense.
Thomas then doesn’t understand the motivation for Harvey asking him to lie at the hearing & point the blame at Harvey, Thomas clues in pretty quickly that this really only benefits Donna, as having a name partner break privilege is still going to have a ripple effect through the firm. Now it isn’t clear to me whether Donna at this very moment is fully aware of how significant this action taken by Harvey is, as the conversation moves on pretty quickly. However I think that Donna being told that Harvey was going to sacrifice his career for her mistake is her biggest indication that she is his highest priority.
As far as we know from the last 7 & ½ seasons, Harvey lives to win, and he doesn’t have many hobbies outside of his job save for boxing maybe. So the fact that he is willing to admit defeat and intentionally lose a battle for her, when although he wanted to he never went through with it for Mike, demonstrates that he has taken stock of his life and pretty much puts her life above his.
Now the rest of this conversation is also important as we finally get some admission from Donna that she also needs Harvey, whereas in the past we have only ever really heard that Harvey needed her. Now I am really glad we got this statement from her, given that she has been fired/quit the firm twice now, I was always a little disappointed that we never really saw her struggle with not being around Harvey or what she exactly feels like only Harvey can bring to the table other than some history. In previous times when she left the firm she always came back quite quickly.
I digress though, to me this is the scene that sets up Donna’s understanding of Harvey’s headspace, and why she changes her mind about going to the hearing. I postulate that she decides not to go as she can’t see Harvey throw away his career for her, and go against his usual motivations, and that she would possibly also get quite emotional, or just admit that it was her at the hearing. What I do find interesting is Donna doesn’t try to convince Harvey otherwise, unlike the situation with Mike (obviously there is no jail time here, which is what she was really worried about last time) but unlike with Mike Harvey didn’t seek her out either so that she could talk him out of it.
So that is my reading of the episode to better explain what is going on inside Donna’s head, as we really don’t get much of a chance in the episode.
Harvey’s action of being willing to give up his career for her, demonstrates for Donna that he is ready to admit that she is more than just a friend, so when he turns up on her doorstep with that look in his eye, she knows exactly what he wants.