'Suits' Boss Talks Midseason Premiere, Filling the Jessica Void and Meghan Markle's Time Off

Suits Still - Publicity - H 2017
Shane Mahood/USA Network

Suits Still - Publicity - H 2017

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's midseason premiere of Suits, “She’s Gone.”]

Suits returned without one of its longtime leaders Wednesday night thanks to Gina Torres’ official exit as Jessica Pearson in the midseason finale. That left Harvey (Gabriel Macht) and Louis (Rick Hoffman) struggling to find their places in the flailing firm and to figure out their dynamic with each other — something that Jessica always had refereed in the past.

And so with Jessica gone, Harvey’s feelings for Donna (Sarah Rafferty) mounting and Mike (Patrick J. Adams) adamant about doing good and not falling back into the same career path, Harvey found himself mourning the loss of his professional family. Meanwhile, Mike learned that getting a job after being in prison wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, Rachel (Meghan Markle) had to make a tough career choice in order to secure her future and Louis prepared to also become a father.  

To dissect the newfound partnership between Harvey and Louis and how the show can fill the Jessica void, THR caught up with showrunner Aaron Korsh. Here, he talks about Mike’s potential future, bringing back a fan favorite and life on set now that Markle’s relationship with Prince Harry has become tabloid fodder.

Was a Harvey-Louis blowout inevitable with Jessica gone?

We wanted to both be true to the Harvey and Louis characters that we’ve come to know over the years and give viewers what they expect to a degree, but also to do something a little unexpected in terms of the surprise in that Harvey doesn’t want to get in a fight with Louis – that is not his desire. Obviously they’re going to get in their own ways because that’s who they are, but the twist in our minds was that they weren’t going to immediately be at each other’s throats and immediately be going after each other. The analogy in the room was, if you look at it metaphorically like a death and these are two brothers that have always had a contentious relationship, when the mom dies they’re not going to immediately go after each other. They’re going to grieve together a little bit and then the cracks in the facade start to occur.

Would you argue that because Harvey did blow up at Louis that he’s also not fit to lead?

We don’t explicitly say it but if you took the best parts of both of them, they maybe equal one Jessica. Absolutely, a lot of the journey of the back six [episodes] is Louis and Harvey realizing neither one of them is currently fit or ready to lead. We talk about that over here because it leads into season seven. Being a No. 2 has a certain element of freedom. You get to have strong opinions, you get to mostly do what you want, and you’re not ultimately responsible for the outcome of those decisions. When the No. 1 leaves and now all of a sudden you’re bearing the responsibility, there’s no longer that person there to pull you back and save you. Therefore, you sort of have to do it for yourself. Harvey is not ready for that and both the blowup at Louis shows it and also the fact that he didn’t communicate with Louis before the blowup indicates that.

You dropped the ethics commission breadcrumb that Mike actually could become a legal lawyer; is that kind of his journey heading into season seven?

We have dropped that breadcrumb in there; it’s a thought that Harvey has and obviously Anita Gibbs [Leslie Hope] is like, “Are you crazy?” It’s meant to be a fantastical idea. If you remember Dumb & Dumber, when Lloyd calls Mary and asks if they have a chance out of a hundred and she says it’s more like one in a million. He says, “So you’re saying there’s a chance.” It’s a crazy idea that Gibbs is smacking down. But maybe later Harvey is hearing, “Maybe there’s a chance.”

There were a lot of returning guest stars in the premiere – was that a matter of filming, timing or budget?

We have budgetary issues with how many guest stars we can have in any given episode, although Gina Torres leaving from a practical standpoint freed up some ability to hire more guest stars. But when you’re breaking it from a writers’ standpoint, we ask ourselves who we want to see and who might our characters go to to deal with their problems. It was a mix of availability and budget that allowed us the opportunity to do something we ordinarily could not do with the guest stars in this episode. Some of those people we’ll see again and others we won’t. Obviously Katrina [Amanda Schull] does end up coming over and being a part of our firm. We can’t use her every episode because she’s on another show [12 Monkeys], but she is back in our firm now.

It’s been reported that Meghan asked for time off because of the fame that her relationship with Prince Harry has brought to set – how has that affected the story?

Let me just say that Meghan asked for one day off. It was a total of three days because we had scheduled her for two days off months before. We were happy to give that to her. The cast members often have things they want to try and make out of town and we always try to accommodate their requests as much as possible. It was not an unreasonable request or uncommon request and it was easily granted. Moving forward, I’m happy for any and all of my cast members that are in any kind of relationship that is bringing them joy and happiness. We always try to make our production schedule work for all of the cast. They have babies, they get married. They’re living their lives.

Has life on set been a bit crazier because of the publicity of that particular relationship or have people been respectful?

Oh yes, I think so. I’m in L.A. more than Toronto but the added publicity came very late in the season for us so we didn’t really have a massive amount of time under that added publicity. If anything was more of a strain, it was the concern of outside paparazzi. The thing is these people have been working together — crew, cast, even many of the extras — for five years. We’ve been operating as a family for so long and that hasn’t really changed.

With Gina gone, how have you approached filling that female boss void on the show?

Obviously you can’t replace Jessica in the back six episodes if you’re making a big deal out of the fact that she’s gone. The lack of Jessica is a character. Moving into [season] seven as we’re breaking story, you realize even more what she gave you in terms of humor, strength and conflict. We’re dealing with how to handle that from a writing perspective by looking at it through the characters’ perspective but we haven’t quite decided how we’re going to do that. As far as thinking about it from a strong woman’s perspective? I’m not unaware of the characters’ genders on the show and I do love that she was a strong woman. But we come up with characters and then later decide their gender. Anita Gibbs wasn’t necessarily written as a woman. She was pitched as a woman, but we held open casting for men and women. In this case, I look at it as we lost our leader, who happened to be a woman, and what are we going to do about that. Harvey and Louis aren’t going to want to get together and bring in someone above them — man or woman. We’ll see what happens.

Suits airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on USA.

What did you think of the midseason return? Sound off in the comments below.

Twitter: @amber_dowling