'Suits' Boss Discusses "New Chapter" in Season 7, Potential Gina Torres Spinoff

Aaron Korsh breaks down the events of the season six finale and reveals the early details about a potential Jessica offshoot.
Shane Mahood/USA Network
'Suits'

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's season six finale of USA's Suits, "Character and Fitness."]

All is finally right in the world of Pearson Specter Litt. After a high-stakes sixth season involving Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) going to jail for fraud, the lawyer drama wrapped its season with a neat and tidy little bow on Wednesday night.

Thanks to a deal Harvey (Gabriel Macht) and Mike made earlier in the season, Mike finally got his time in front of an ethics committee to plead his case about why he should be allowed to become a real lawyer — despite never having gone to actual law school.

Following an original curveball in the form of Anita Gibbs (returning guest star Leslie Hope) joining the committee and vowing never to let Mike in, a last-minute surprise appearance by Jessica (Gina Torres, who exited the series last year) wound up sealing the deal when she dug up some dirt on Gibbs and gently convinced her to change her mind.

That leaves Mike as a full-fledged lawyer, the dream team together again and Jessica back in Chicago when the show returns for a previously renewed seventh season. To find out where the series goes from here, what kind of longevity it has now that Mike’s fraud storyline has been put to bed and what’s happening with the Jessica-centric spinoff in development at USA, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with showrunner Aaron Korsh.

Did you mean to wrap this season up with a nice little bow, given the open-endedness of last season?

I don’t think we knew the last six [episodes] were going to go this way. We often have a notion, but we had no idea how we were going to wrap this up. We wanted to break Mike out of prison, but then for the back six we were like, “What are we going to do?” We try to come up with a cohesive arc for those episodes, which hopefully we did this year. It just emerged and it’s almost like we’re right back where we started but a lot of things have changed in the interim, meaning the disappearance of the secret and the leader of the firm and some of the other dynamics moving forward. But it’s like the band is back together for season seven to some degree.

You had already been renewed for a seventh season, so was there any discussion about ending season six on a cliffhanger?

I have never been in a position of personally doubting whether we would get renewed or not when we were coming up with a season finale. That’s my own personal experience; my gut has always been that I knew we would come back and I would know if we weren’t. Obviously when we know the series is ending, we’ll end in a way that’s appropriate, but usually we follow where the story goes and where we want to go. The year that Mike left the firm to go somewhere else, I didn’t consider that a cliffhanger. It wasn’t like when he got arrested. It was more setting up a dynamic for next year. So we’ve done something like this before and it just felt like the natural rhythm of the show.

Now that the dream team is back in place and almost everyone has something of a happy ending, where do you go from here?

We’re still in the early stages of forming the arcs of [next] season, but the big things heading into the season is that the dream team is indeed back together, but they’re back together in a different way than they were the last time they worked together. Or than some of the previous times they worked together. At the beginning of the show, Mike was a green kid who had practically never been in a law firm before. That dynamic has long passed; he’s coming back a partner who is presumably taking Harvey’s office. We didn’t really deal with Jessica being gone; we dealt with the first stage of it, but we haven’t dealt with Harvey stepping up. Is he going to step up, and what does that look like? Harvey made this deal with Mike, but in the past we’ve set it up that pro bono cases can sometimes be at odds with your corporate clientele. So [season] seven is about seeing how this team is going to work together with their new power dynamics, how the firm is going to work with Jessica’s absence and how Harvey is going to respond to being in a power position as opposed to the freelance superstar. Those are the questions we’re discussing moving forward. Then we’ll add in how Rachel (Meghan Markle) is going to respond to being a full-fledged lawyer and working with her fiancé, what’s the answer to Donna (Sarah Rafferty) wanting more and how that plays out personally and professionally. And then with [how is] Louis (Rick Hoffman) going to handle Harvey stepping up and taking the reins and his implementations. Obviously that is going to be colored by what happened with Tara (Carly Pope). Then you add in some new characters and hopefully have yourself a good season.

When Suits started, USA had a lot of very different shows on the air. Have you seen a change in their execs' notes or within your discussions with them as their mandate changed?

Yes and no. To some degree, sometimes I have discussions with the network about various development things that are in the works with them or for me and the changes at the network come into play more when we’re talking about new projects rather than when we’re talking about Suits. Their desire is for the show to be the best show it can, and Suits sort of fit into their old network paradigm and the new network paradigm — it sort of has a foot in both worlds. Most of the discussions have always been about what’s best for the show, rather than making the show fit into what they’re evolving into.

Is there a world where you could see Suits going beyond a seventh season?

Yeah, sure. I don’t see why not. My feeling on Suits in the early days was that it would go likely at least six, possibly seven and up to eight. But I wouldn’t limit it to only eight now when I see shows like Grey’s Anatomy lasting much longer. It’s still a very popular show within the network and I think worldwide. Other than that, it still has a lot of stories left to tell with our original cast, and maybe if we also bring in new people I could see it going beyond, absolutely.

You originally wanted to kill off the Jessica character when Gina Torres asked to leave but the network was against it. Now there’s talk of a Jessica spinoff — is that why?

You’d have to ask them, it wasn’t explicitly discussed then. The notion of [the character] just returning from time to time was discussed and if she died, it certainly would preclude her from coming back in the present day. It wouldn’t stop her from coming back in flashbacks. Ultimately, I felt like both ways could be satisfying and I tend to try to listen to notes. Not 100 percent, but when someone gives me a note and I feel I could just as easily do it this way as I could a different way and it’s still satisfying, I’ll agree. But it was not based on any idea of doing a spinoff; that was something that came up later.

What is the word on this spinoff? Are you developing ideas?

Basically I have to give Gina Torres a lot of credit. She had an idea and went to the studio and sort of discussed with them. ... It wasn’t a vague idea but it was a broader idea. They came to me, asked me what I thought. Obviously I love Jessica, I’m interested in seeing what’s happening with her in the future, and we decided to pursue it. It’s very, very early. We’re in the early process of brainstorming and formulating, but it’s so early that we haven’t even put into place the parameters under which it would logistically work. That has to come before we can even think creatively about it.

Could it potentially mean an episode of this upcoming season of Suits taking place in Chicago alongside Jessica and pick up on her life there?

First of all, yes. There’s always a potential for anything. The early days of Suits, it was a Wall Street show that became a law show. At the time, had you asked me if these guys would be lawyers, I’d so no. They’re investment bankers. It evolved into that. We are in such early stages that anything could happen. There’s no guarantee that it will be Chicago or anything like that, but absolutely that’s a possibility.

Are there any other characters — even side players — that you’d love to see go to that potential show?

I have not thought about that. My mind is just starting to think about it. There certainly could be characters we’ve seen before. The way my brain works is that something is going to click for me and say, “This is what we’re doing.” And then all of the other things will fall into place. All I’ve done so far is to say, “This is intriguing, let’s think about it.” Deals have to be done and all that stuff has to be worked out. Once that’s in place, then I’ll start really getting into higher gear on that stuff. I don’t like to shut down any possibilities.

Is the thought of potentially doing two shows at the same time slightly overwhelming?

Sure! Sure. Making television is very rewarding and fun, but it can be very difficult if you love the characters that you’re dealing with. I have always been daunted by the prospect of another season of solely Suits. And then a couple of years ago, we explored doing a pilot and that was daunting, even though I was on it in more of a supervisory capacity and I had a great writer who I knew could handle it. It still was daunting thinking about casting and all the things that come with even doing a pilot. That thing didn’t go to series, but even if it had, the work would have tripled or something. So it’s new muscles, it’s a new endeavor and I feel like if you’re not scared you’re either stupid or crazy. I was petrified to create and run my own show in the first place. I did this with the Writers Guild training program and I think they tell you, “Be afraid, be very afraid.” It’s a fear of not doing your best. But if that fear drives you to do a good job and lean on people that can help, then I think that’s how you do it successfully.

Would you like to add anything?

It’s a new chapter in our characters’ lives. It’s a clean slate in terms of Mike no longer having a secret, but it’s not a clean slate in terms of their lives. We’re now enmeshed in these characters’ lives that we don’t need the premise that Mike was a fraud anymore to see what they’re going to do and what they’re going to become. It’s rare and lucky to have a show last so long that we’ve delivered on the original premise. Mike got arrested — he didn’t just get arrested, he went to prison. We didn’t do a time jump and now he’s out of prison and it’s a new chapter and a chance to really find out what lies ahead for these characters.

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Suits returns for a seventh season later this year.

Thoughts? Sound off in the comments below.

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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