8:04pm PT by Philiana Ng
'Suits' Premiere: Creator Sheds Light on a Secret Revealed and Hardman's True Motives (Q&A)
[Warning: If you haven't watched the season premiere, do not go further. Spoilers ahead.]
Suits didn't pull any punches.
Now that another party is privy to Pearson Hardman associate Mike Ross' (Patrick J. Adams) big secret (after he nearly lost his job), a direction series creator Aaron Korsh kept going back to after season one ended, it's safe the say the game has changed.
Add to that the return of partner Daniel Hardman (David Constabile), whom Harvey (Gabriel Macht) and Jessica (Gina Torres) successfully pushed out of the firm years ago, forces the two -- both used to being on stable ground -- to have to contend with a formidable foe.
Korsh answered THR's burning questions raised after Thursday's premiere chock full of reveals, from the decision to have Mike's secret outed, how this affects everyone's standing at the firm and how different Pearson Hardman may look by season's end (hint: very different).
The Hollywood Reporter: Last season ended on a cliffhanger -- with Trevor (Tom Lipinski) approaching Jessica at Pearson Hardman -- and we weren’t sure what was said between the two. Now we know. Before you landed on the direction you ended up going, how many possibilities were you weighing?
Aaron Korsh: I remember us talking at the end of last year about the fact that I didn’t want it to be some sort of cop out, where Trevor didn’t tell Jessica anything. It had to be that he told her something significant. One other option was that [Trevor] maybe said what he did [for Harvey] to get the confession out of the kid in the season finale. There were other options weighed but my gut kept going back to, “Let’s just do it.” If Hardman comes in, that can trump it. Once I locked onto that idea, it just seemed to make the most sense to me.
THR: Why did you decide to go the way you did?
Korsh: It felt the most satisfying to me because it took the problem head on. It was the least cop-out way to do it; that [Trevor] actually does what we threatened [in the finale]. The car doesn’t veer back onto the road; it went off the cliff and we have to deal with that. I’m a fan of a lot of other shows and one of the things I’ve learned is to bring in a new threat in subsequent seasons. It’s a great way to shake up the dynamics within the firm. We kept wondering, “Who is Hardman of Pearson Hardman?” A lot of fans wondered it too. If we could bring him in and use him to solve the problems that we had created, it seemed like the perfect way to go.
THR: Now that Jessica’s in the loop with Mike’s secret that he doesn't have a college/law degree, what does that mean for everyone involved?
Korsh: To some degree, she has more exposure than she would’ve had before. It also means her discovering Mike’s secret and discovering that Harvey was in on it, it strains their relationship because it meant that Harvey kept a big thing from her that put her in a vulnerable place. It causes a division between [Jessica and Harvey] and we do speak to that in episode 2.
THR: Now that Hardman is back in the game, how does his presence affect Jessica’s power at the firm and change the way Harvey operates?
Korsh: It will jeopardize Jessica’s power, which obviously also jeopardizes Harvey since they’re tied together. But it will also create schisms because Jessica and Harvey, though they’re on the same side, don’t have the same way of going about things and don’t always want to attack problems in the same way. Bringing in Hardman, it changes everything. They both have a problem, but how they’re going to deal with that problem, they don’t always see eye to eye on that. It creates conflict for Harvey-Jessica, it created an opportunity for Harvey to leverage Mike into keeping his job and it will definitely affect Louis (Rick Hoffman). Louis likes to act like a sycophant and he’s going to have to decide: Who does he want to align himself with?
THR: It seems to make sense for Louis to team with Hardman, just based on Louis’ previous experiences with Jessica and Harvey. Is that something you’re leaning toward?
Korsh: Certainly Louis is dissatisfied with the way Jessica has been treating him to some degree. It’s natural for Louis to gravitate toward Hardman. The thing is, what does Hardman need with Louis? Why would he want to align with Louis? He may or may not to do that to his benefit.
THR: What can you share about how Hardman is received as the show moves forward?
Korsh: Episode 2 is Hardman [on his way back] and the whole firm is reacting to Hardman’s imminent return without him even being there; he’s remodeling his office and he’s giving gifts to people. Just the anticipation of his arrival is already causing a lot of problems. Episode 3 he does come back and he steps on Jessica’s toes a little bit and Jessica sends Harvey after him – and it creates conflict between he and Harvey, which trickles down into Mike who ends up getting caught in the middle. Episode 4 and on, it escalates from there.
THR: Is there a larger plan in the works for the firm as far as Hardman’s concerned?
Korsh: Hardman is not a great guy and they forced him out years ago for the good of the firm. He is coming back a presumed “changed man” when you meet him in the premiere. You’re not sure: Is he a changed man or is he not? The truth is we (the writers) ourselves are not sure. I have an inkling but you want to leave yourself open to that because if we want the audience to wonder then we have to wonder. He could have ulterior motives that are not good for our people but that doesn’t mean that he is inherently a bad guy. That’ll play out throughout the course of the season. We haven’t shot the end of the season yet; you never know what’s going to happen until you land on it. Last year when Harvey went against Travis Tanner (Eric Close), it was always our intention for that to be the episode where Harvey loses. Always. When we got there, we didn’t want Harvey to lose, so we changed it.
THR: We haven’t seen Harvey and Jessica struggle and it seems like that’s something they’re going to have to get used to.
THR: How different will Pearson Hardman look by the end of season two?
Korsh: Pearson Hardman, as a character, will have gone through a serious journey in the course of the 10 episodes. (Suits will run 10 episodes before taking a break and airing the final ones of the season at a later date.) No matter how it looks at the end, it’s going to feel different. If you climbed Mt. Everest and came back down, you would be the same person but boy you would feel much different having gone through that. Maybe you’ll have gotten frostbite or lost a finger, but you’ll feel pretty beat up. Pearson Hardman will have felt like it’s been put through the ringer, hopefully.
THR: We also learned bits and pieces of some of the characters’ pasts and family lives. Will Mike’s parents’ accident come into play later and will Harvey’s family – there was a brief mention of his younger brother – be explored more?
Korsh: Currently there are no plans to meet [members of Harvey’s family]. I read somewhere where we were going to meet Harvey’s mother, there’s no written episode where we’re meeting her currently. We may but we don’t have it yet. We’re close to two-thirds of the way done of breaking the stories and we’re not really meeting family members. But we do find things out about Harvey’s family. Grammy is a more prevalent character throughout this season. Through the course of that, we’re going to meet hopefully a new person from Mike’s past – not a family member though. We will find out more about Harvey and Mike, without a doubt.
THR: Is Harvey and Donna’s (Sarah Rafferty) past going to be delved into more this season?
Korsh: I would say we more examine their feelings towards each other, maybe Donna’s feelings towards Harvey. In episode 2, when Mike has to make his choice whether he’s going to be with Rachel (Meghan Markle) or not, Donna and Mike have a conversation where her feelings to Harvey are alluded to. Later on in the year, her feelings towards Harvey are going to be examined somewhat ruthlessly.
THR: Is this the season where Mike figures out his approach to law? In the premiere, we saw him act like Harvey Specter-lite.
Korsh: In episode 1, he definitely took Harvey’s philosophy: “I need to steamroll this woman.” He was halfway toward being Harvey in that moment. When she tries to push him too far, then Mike totally steamrolls her. That’s a progression from season one. You’re going to see more of it this year but he’s still going to struggle with the same things he struggled with but [act] more [like] Harvey.
Suits airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on USA Network.