'Suits' Boss Previews Mike/Harvey Tension, Merger Aftermath and Season 3 Secrets

"We strengthen bonds that had been broken and we weaken bonds that had been strengthened," creator/executive producer Aaron Korsh tells THR of the upcoming 16 episodes.

On Suits, the British are making their presence known.

As USA Network’s returning legal drama kicks off its third season July 16, the recovering Pearson Hardman led by Jessica (Gina Torres) has agreed to merge with a British law firm headed by Darby (Game of Thrones’ Conleth Hill), leaving hotshot lawyer Harvey (Gabriel Macht) at a crossroads. After losing his right-hand man in Mike (Patrick J. Adams), who outs his fraud status to Rachel (Meghan Markle), Harvey is forced to wade through uncharted waters as Darby and his British counterparts keep a watchful eye.

With two seasons under its belt, it’s only natural that Suits heads into more complex territory, with the risks becoming greater and the stakes higher than ever.

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"We explore some more darkness this year," creator/executive producer Aaron Korsh tells The Hollywood Reporter of the new season. “Going into the premiere, we had to deal with the fallout. There is a rift between Mike and Harvey; a rift between Jessica and Harvey; a big bombshell between Mike and Rachel; and Harvey’s [decision] about Scottie (Abigail Spencer). The best option was to tackle them head-on and pick up in the aftermath of where we left off.”

Korsh previews the third season with THR, addressing repercussions of the merger, Mike and Harvey’s power struggle, the aftermath of Rachel’s discovery of Mike’s secrets and the problematic introduction of “British Harvey.”

The Hollywood Reporter: First things first, will the can opener be making an appearance at any point during the season?

Aaron Korsh: [Laughs] I don’t know if the can opener will be, but we certainly mention a ritual. I think we see a can opener ... I think we do.

THR: Now that the characters are fully formed and the world has been well established at this point, is there more freedom to get into darker territory and explore more serious storylines?

Korsh: That’s an interesting way of looking at it. Whenever you get to know characters better, it’s always easier to take them further because at first, you’re establishing who they are. Once you establish who they are, you can add dimension to them, show how they’re different from who you thought they were or change and grow them. Season three allows us to do that. We strengthen bonds that had been broken, and we weaken bonds that had been strengthened. 

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THR: The show now has a strong British component. Was it important for you to bring over an international element?

Korsh: First of all, I speak only with a British accent all year. [Laughs] Not true. Nobody wants that. The writers came up with the idea in the room to bring Scottie back, and since we had established in season one that Scottie was working in a British law firm over there, merging with a British company came out of bringing Scottie back. Had we said that she was working in a different country’s law firm or a Texas law firm, it would have been a Texas merger. 

THR: Will there be obvious differences or ways of tackling certain cases that might affect the newly-merged firm?

Korsh: When we were talking about it, there was talk of how the culture of the British firm would affect the culture of our firm. There is some of that [the cultural differences] in there, but we don’t speak to it. If you just look at it as a merger with any other company, what are the conflicts that are going to arise between Edward Darby and Jessica and Harvey; Nigel and Louis; and Steven Huntley, a character that’s going to be introduced later.

THR: Now that Darby’s at the firm, is there a possibility of Harvey aligning with him?

Korsh: Harvey lost to Jessica and he's pissed. He may think that she didn’t fight fairly, but she probably thinks he didn’t and they argue about that in episode two. There’s a scene where they talk about that. Harvey is trying to figure out how to exist in the new regime, and he’s going to latch onto whoever he can, as best he can. As we open up the season, Harvey's decided to accept it, move on and go back to being Harvey and kicking ass. Jessica's lack of belief in his acceptance is the final straw and causes him to maybe shift slight allegiance to Darby — but I think it’s more a shifting in allegiance toward himself.

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THR: I feel like Harvey has more decisions to make this season in terms of his future at the firm and in life. Is that a fair assessment?

Korsh: The question of what Harvey wants comes up a lot in the writers’ room. The answer that I came up with is: Harvey wants to win and it doesn’t matter what he’s competing over. He wants to beat the person that beat him and that’s what drives Harvey. This year, he picks another fight and maybe, once things start to either go his way or not go his way, he possibly for the first time ever questions, is this actually what I want to be doing? And do I find myself in a situation where I don’t want to be in? And I think that happens this year for him, so in that respect, he has more decisions to make.

THR: Is there a possibility that he could be pushed out?

Korsh: Any time you’re picking a fight with the managing partner of the firm, anything can happen, but at their core, these characters want to find a way to stay together. I view this firm as a family, and you can get into a screaming match with your family like with no one else. Those bonds are tested at times.

THR: Mike and Harvey aren't on the same page, but how long before they get back into each other’s good graces?

Korsh: Patrick and I talked a lot during the filming of the premiere and he made a choice; instead of [having Mike] begging Harvey to forgive him like he sometimes has in the past, he’s just going to say, "Harvey, this is the situation and it’s time for you to accept it." Be more grown up about it. [While] Jessica is a parental figure to Harvey, Harvey is a parental figure to Mike and they’re having a clash and they need to work it out.

THR: What are the repercussions of Mike and Rachel's relationship now that Mike's secret is out?

Korsh: He told her a secret and there have been some questions from some fans on Twitter, like, “He didn’t really tell her everything, so does she really know everything?” We didn’t play games with that: He told her everything; it was a shorthand, but he told her. I will say this, no one overheard [them] in that file room. There’s no one secretly there. He is pretending to be legitimate at the thing that she is trying — and unable, thus far — to be. It’s not that different than one member of a relationship telling the other they’ve had an affair because it’s a betrayal. In the moment, you might be able to forgive them, but the other person is going to keep thinking about that, so it might take some time.

THR: What obstacles do Louis (Rick Hoffman) and Donna (Sarah Rafferty) face this year?

Korsh: Both of them are affected by this merger. Louis has a major thing happen to him at the end of the premiere that is a result of the actions he took in the finale. Louis is dealing with a lot of his past behaviors coming back to roost a little bit. At the same time, he’s got a lot of fun stuff moving forward so he continues to be, in my opinion, both a lot of comedy and a lot of heartfelt drama.

Donna is affected by the merger in that Harvey takes on a big case, makes a deal with Darby at the end of the premiere and she is burdened with the knowledge. This season, “British Harvey” (Max Beesley) comes to town and he and Donna are going to have some interactions that affect her, the firm, her relationship with Harvey and lead us to a flashback episode, in which we shed light on what happened "the other time."

THR: What does British Harvey’s emergence in Pearson Hardman mean for everyone at the firm?

Korsh: ["British Harvey"] Steven Huntley is brought in on a matter and arrives, but also happens to be — when I say he’s British Harvey, I don’t mean he’s exactly the same as Harvey. But he is kind of Darby’s fixer. And he ends up showing up and he and Harvey have conflict and then they bond and he has some interactions with Donna, and they might have some flirtation, which might lead to some feelings on Harvey’s behalf. In addition, he may or may not stick his nose into Harvey’s case, which has complications. Jessica also wonders what this guy is really up to, so there’s just a lot. He really allows for a lot of shifting dynamics within the firm.

THR: You mentioned a flashback episode. What other fun things should we expect this season?

Korsh: There is an episode where Louis courts Mike, there is another mock trial. We have a lot of returning stars that we love: Gary Cole; Conleth Hill; Wendell Pierce, who plays Rachel’s father. We do meet Rachel’s family [this season]; Mike and Rachel have dinner with her family. We also have some fun Katrina (Amanda Schull) stuff. We shed a different light on Katrina and get to know her a little bit more. Jessica is dealing with the decision to pull out all the stops to beat Harvey, which has its ramifications for her as much as anybody else. Rachel and Donna have some great interactions. We got away from that last year and they have some awesome scenes. (Game of Thrones' Michelle Fairley also appears throughout the season.)

THR: Have you written the summer finale yet?

Korsh: We are about to start; [the writers] just finished doing the outline. We're close to finishing editing on the first five [episodes]. You never know how fans are going to react but I’m very pleased with the [episodes]. There is one major thing that happens that I believe some fans are not going to love.

THR: Are you expecting some outcry when that development hits?

Korsh: It did not occur to me until I watched it and I was like, "Oh my god," because I don’t have a vested interest in [seeing these two characters] together. I thought, "Oh man, what are people going to say?" But what can you do?

Suits premieres July 16 at 10 p.m. on USA Network.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@THR.com
Twitter: @insidethetube