'Suits' Boss on the Summer Finale Aftermath, Harvey/Scottie and Louis' Discovery (Q&A)
Showrunner Aaron Korsh talks to THR about where Pearson Specter is headed in the second half of the season and snagging Michael Phelps ("he's a pretty good actor!").
[Warning: Spoilers ahead from Tuesday's summer finale. Do not proceed if you have not watched the episode.]
Is Mike Ross in danger?
The events of the summer finale of USA Network's Suits put Harvey Specter's (Gabriel Macht) No. 2 in a potentially dangerous position, with Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) coming uncomfortably close to uncovering Mike's (Patrick J. Adams) Harvard secret. With Harvey attempting to settle down with Scottie (Abigail Spencer), Mike and Rachel's (Meghan Markle) impending move and the Ava Hessington case (Michelle Fairley) behind them, what does the future hold for the newly named Pearson Specter law firm?
In a chat with The Hollywood Reporter, creator Aaron Korsh discusses the aftermath of the summer finale, Harvey and Scottie's future, Louis' discovery and landing self-proclaimed Suits fan Michael Phelps.
What was the biggest challenge in crafting this particular 10-episode arc?
The hard part for us was, when we were crafting the Ava Hessington case, we had envisioned episode eight as the finale, but you never know. The rhythm of these things they dictate themselves. We might’ve wanted the case to have lasted 10 episodes but it didn’t. We felt like in episode eight, it was the natural ending. We were a little worried to start a new thing with just two episodes [left in the run]. We actually called the network to air us eight and eight, and finally we just decided — the network does the scheduling — we just need to write the stories as they occur to us. What if episode eight was the end of the first [half] of the season, but you’re starting up a new thing in episodes nine and 10? Then they’re getting to see the first two of the back eight. (Suits returns for six episodes in 2014.) One of the biggest challenges of the finale was we were writing it a bit under the gun. There wasn’t a lot of time for rewrites and shooting of the episode. It was a big challenge to make it work and have it come together.
This was also the first time there was one over-arching case, rather than cases of the week. Are you looking to continue that format moving forward?
It’s an interesting question. I was thinking about that this morning. To some degree, we don’t have an incredible of time to reflect on what we’re going to do the next year. To me, season two was a transition season because season one was very much case of the week until the last two episodes, which were a two-parter almost. But as we progressed, even though it was case of the week, we became more serialized as the season went. Season two, it was still to a large degree case of the week, but it had that arc of Hardman being back which unified and bound the first 10 [episodes]. That storyline dictated what the first 10 were and the whole season. Season three, the writers came up with this — I may have been in on the idea of one case last the whole season — and I thought they did a great show. Season four, I’m honestly sure whether it will be one case that lasts the whole season or not but what I do like is we’re going to continue with the more serialized approach to storytelling. That doesn’t mean it has to be one case. My natural inclination would be to be more serialized and less case of the week, just in terms of the shows I gravitate toward watching. I think we’ll continue that. That doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily have one case for the whole season, but I don’t know.
Because you’re regularly on Twitter engaging with fans, how has their reaction to the first half of this season affected how you progressed with certain stories in the back six?
I am on Twitter and I do read reviews and I do read viewer response and blogs; I try not to let any of it affect me directly. I don’t read something and go, “Someone said this, I have to do this,” and especially if you read enough reader response, half the people love one thing, half the people hate the same exact thing. There’s no unified response to almost everything. That’s one thing I’ve learned. There’s nothing I can do to make either everyone hate it or everyone love it. There are Harvey/Donna ‘shippers; there are Jessica/Harvey ‘shippers; there are Harvey/Scottie ‘shippers; there are Mike/Harvey ‘shippers. There are people who, any direction you go, you’re going to make the ones who ‘ship that relationship happy and the ones who don’t, unhappy. But I’m assuming that it all gestates inside and probably affects where I come down on what I want to do. But ultimately I decide in my gut what I think is right.
Any specific examples where things went on a detour?
We talk a lot of things in the writers’ room. The writers talk about what they’d like to see and I talk about what I’d like to see. When it comes down to it, in the rewrite of a given episode, a lot of times we thought we were going to go one way and when you get to that scene — based on how you actually execute the episode, you say, “No, this way instead of the other way.” Donna (Sarah Rafferty) getting fired last year was never pitched by anyone, it just happened in the rewrite of that episode. This year, Harvey coming clean about the coup attempt to Jessica (Gina Torres) after the flashback, that wasn’t supposed to happen in that episode. But when we were writing it, and we got through the scenes, I wanted Harvey to tell her and to say that he didn’t want [the partnership] anymore. It wasn’t planned [originally].
Mike’s reaction to Rachel telling him that she’s debating between Stanford and Columbia was telling. What did that show about where he was at in terms of his state of mind?
One of the previews, I have to say, was a little upsetting to me. He doesn’t give her an ultimatum. We had another scene where Donna explains to Rachel that Mike is an orphan. Sometimes I feel like the fans are a little hard on Mike. He doesn’t have much in his life and the most grounding influence he had died a short time ago. Now he’s fallen in love and the fact that she might go to Stanford is very upsetting to him. This is the love of his life and he doesn’t have anything else except his work. To me, he’s trying very hard to let her have her space in making this decision. The one thing he has trouble understanding is she wants to decide which school is better first and then take into account the fact that she’s with him. He can’t understand why Rachel wants to ignore that they’re in a relationship first. Rachel doesn’t work like that. He does let her have her space. When Jessica throws in this wrinkle [with the affidavit], he actually goes the other way and [Rachel] ends up coming up with a better solution for both of them. I read fan reaction and I think, "Boy, the fans are harder on Mike than anyone." I’m not a 100 percent sure why. But I came up with a theory in my head.
Why do you think that’s the case?
Louis started off as the bad guy and his journey is moving towards becoming more likable and Mike started out so innocent and in a sense, his journey is becoming harder in this world of sharks and it’s harder to watch sometimes.
Jessica finding out about Mike and Rachel’s relationship adds yet another layer to their complex story. Did Rachel sign the affidavit and what is their next big hurdle?
Yes, [Rachel] signs the affidavit and gets the Harvard Rule waived. She comes in and she’s going to stay. She’ll presumably explain to him what happened. I don’t think we see that and they move forward in their relationship. The next decision for them is, OK, now that all of that stuff is out of the way, they still have to decide if they’ll move in together and move forward. They’re staying together but they haven’t yet answered whether they’ll move in together. That'll be the next question for them.
The finale revealed a lot about how far Harvey has changed with his view on love, with his declaration at the end of the episode that he is ready to be serious with Scottie. Are Scottie and Harvey a pair we should be rooting for?
[Laughs] I don't know how to answer the question of whether you should be rooting for them or not. I think people are going to root for who they're going to root for. Harvey is serious when he says that. Scottie believes him. We're going to see what happens in that relationship. As you know, my philosophy is not to give season enders that we then pretend didn't happen in the first episode [back]. We're going to tackle that situation moving forward. They're going to move forward. We pick up where we left off.
That's a complete 180 for Harvey from the start of the series. A huge move.
Yes, huge, huge. I would just comment of his arc on his progression in the episode. If you look at what happens to Harvey this episode, he didn't trust Scottie when he should have. This is not the first time Scottie has been trustworthy for him and he's not trusted her. Tanner (Eric Close) tries to get her to turn on him; she doesn't. He has to watch her be humiliated in front of Tanner while next to him; that starts to stir his feelings. Mike asks him how he can never have a relationship, which starts to get him thinking. The last scene of Harvey and Mike, when Harvey's watching Mike be so upset over losing Rachel, that lands on Harvey and that affects what he affects what Harvey does with the next scene with Scottie. What Mike's going through affects Harvey.
Is Scottie firmly ingrained in Pearson Specter now?
Well, we'll pick up the fact that she has a job offer in the next [six episodes]. Harvey may or may not have run through that offer by Jessica before he made it.
Does Louis' discovery that Mike Ross' file isn't in the Harvard cabinets mean trouble for Mike?
We're going to follow that up. Louis doesn't have proof of anything or knowledge of anything, but he's in a little of a pickle, in that he was told by the woman that he loves [Sheila Sazs, played by Rachael Harris], "Do not look at those files. This is no joke." Sheila is a character like Louis. She takes a huge amount of pride in her work. On the one hand, there's no way in his mind Sheila would lose a file but he also can't ask or tell her about what he did because he's afraid Sheila will break up with him. It's a big violation of her trust. He's going to have to figure out what it means and pursue some fishing in the next episode.
You managed to get Michael Phelps to appear in the midseason premiere. What can we expect in his cameo?
I just watched it last night and he's a pretty good actor! It's not a large, pivotal role but it's a fun part where he plays himself and has influence on the story moving forward. He has a fun little backstory and history with one of our characters.
Suits returns in 2014 on USA.