In this week’s episode, Olivia and the team represent the family of a man who is having a three-quarter-life crisis with a woman more than half his age. Harold Pierce is the founder and CEO of Pierce Industries, a multi-billion dollar enterprise that is about to explode into a many-multi-billion dollar enterprise once the company goes public in a few days – that is unless Harold scares away investors with his erratic behavior. Besides divorcing his long-time wife and dating a blonde-twenty something named Jenna, Harold’s also taken to riding his motorcycle in the house, building an amusement park in the backyard, and acting all shades of crazy. If word of his behavior gets out to the public, it will nearly guarantee the failure of the initial stock offering.
Which is why Harold’s ex-wife Anne and son Skip call in Pope & Associates. Olivia and the team figure that the best way to contain the situation is by containing Harold himself – by getting him committed to an institution. Procedures for involuntary commitment vary by state; in Virginia, where Harold lives, an emergency custody order or a temporary detention order can be issued to hold a person for up to 96 hours. But an ECO, TDO, or other involuntary hold is not the only option in a case like this. Skip, who in this case is Harold’s next of kin and has power of attorney over his father, can become Harold’s legal guardian if he can get a court to declare Harold incapacitated. And a legal guardian has the right to make decisions regarding his or her guardee’s health care – which can include committing the person.
While Harold seems to show some obvious signs of eccentricity, he claims his actions are due to an “epiphany” rather than a mental disorder, and getting him deemed incapacitated will require an independent psychiatric evaluation. The team is able to send a shrink in, but before the doc can make his decision, Harold strips him naked and marches him out at gunpoint. Clearly Harold is not going along with the plan without a fight. Marching a shrink out by gunpoint definitely proves that Harold is a danger to himself and others, but unfortunately that very gun also allows him to make a fortress out of his mansion. No one can come in, but with the team standing by, Harold also can’t come out. Which means it’s time for plan B – Abby and Harrison get the joy of baby-sitting duty while they attempt to keep Harold in the house and away from the public and authorities until the company goes public.
After witnessing some special (and very slobbery) moments between the eccentric billionaire and his much-younger babe, Abby and Harrison are alerted by Jenna that the old man has come down with a nasty fever. Abby and Harrison call in a doctor, but it turns out Dr. Walters’ PhD had more to do with religion and love than with the measles or mumps. In his capacity as a minister, the doctor marries Jenna and the never-really-sick Harold, thus making Jenna Harold’s new next-of-kin. This means she’s now the one who has legal guardianship over Harold, and she’s certainly not going to throw her sugar daddy into a mental institution.
At this point, the team’s only option is to try to make this crazy family talk. Harrison steps up to the plate to play family counselor and is finally able to help Skip and Harold see that the whole thing is a big miscommunication. Skip is only taking the company public because he thought it was what his father wanted, and Harold is only trying to tank the IPO because he doesn’t want his son to have the nonstop working man’s life he did. A little pop psychology goes a long way in this case and the Pierces decide to cancel the IPO, thereby keeping the company in the family and allowing Harold to get down with his eccentric self.
At the end of the day, a little talking is sometimes all it takes to shut down a scandal. Meanwhile, the rest of the characters in this episode are doing just the opposite of talking. Little secrets are starting to form between all of our Associates and their friends (and enemies!). Will their secrets be revealed or will they continue to grow and fester?We’ll see you next week to find out!!