'Suits' Boss Discusses Season 6's New Challenges, Series Endgame

Suits S01E01 Still 1 - Publicity - H 2016
Ian Watson/USA Network

Suits S01E01 Still 1 - Publicity - H 2016

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's season six premiere of Suits, "To Trouble."]

Suits has never relied on a time jump to help write itself out of a corner, and Wednesday’s sixth season premiere was no exception. The USA Network series picked up where the fifth season finale left off, with Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) taking a two-year plea deal for fraud, and the name partners of Pearson Specter Litt scrambling to save their firm.

As Mike adjusted to his threatening new “roommate” and life behind bars, Harvey (Gabriel Macht), Jessica (Gina Torres) and Louis (Rick Hoffman) had their own pressing matters to attend to when they realized they were being sued for millions.

To break down the premiere’s twists and discuss the repercussions heading into the rest of the season, THR caught up with creator and showrunner Aaron Korsh. Below he discusses tying the cast back together, the Mad Men influence, and the show’s ultimate endgame.

How did you decide on the look and feel of the prison?

That prison is an entire set in Toronto. We looked at pictures of prisons, tons of them. ... We wanted something big, but something we could afford. A lot of work went into it. If you blindfolded someone and took them to that set and told them it was a real prison, they might believe it. I held up a picture of the actual prison we based it on next to a picture I’d taken of the set and I couldn’t tell the difference between what was real and wasn’t.

Given the fact that you built a whole set, it’s safe to assume you spend a lot of time there this season?

Yes. When we see Mike, that’s where we see him. That was born out of last year’s decision. We wanted to see what Mike’s time in prison is like. We said, “Let’s see if we can figure out some interesting stories to tell while he’s in prison.” And I hope we have.

Will there be a time jump post-premiere? Rachel (Meghan Markle) was told she couldn’t see Mike for at least a month.

We speak to that in the next episode but we do not do a time jump.

How long will Mike be segregated from everyone or was it important for you to get the dream team back together sooner rather than later?

It’s always a challenge to keep our characters connected to each other as the show goes on in age. In real life, people come in and go out of your life. I don’t think we’re in its league and I was a huge fan, but if we compare ourselves to Mad Men, those people moved on to different places and we followed them in different places. The way that show worked was much different because of how it was produced. We have a cast of series regulars where it would be much more difficult to go many episodes without seeing one or two of them. But we can pretend to do that.

When Mike left to go to the investment banking world, it was a challenge to have him integrated into our show even though he no longer worked at the firm. The way we did that is to have he and Harvey on opposite sides of the case. Now that Mike is in prison, I didn’t want to have him operate on an island so we tried to come up with a way to still connect it to our people in an ongoing storyline.

Is that how Frank Gallo (Paul Schulze) came up?

Yes. I had an original idea that Mike should be in there with someone who is causing him trouble, and one of the writers came up with the idea that the guy giving Mike problems was someone Harvey had put in there. As soon as that was pitched that became our framework for the year. It’s sort of about them dealing with this problem and then from there we give a lot of solutions and complications and take it from there.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner is also on the cast as Mike’s counselor. How does that character compare to Harvey’s shrink storyline last season?

It’s not exactly the same. There are small elements to that, but his job is to sort of help inmates come to terms with what they’ve done -- the seriousness of what they’ve done and how they need to approach the way they look at themselves to be more successful on the outside. We’re not having a lot of like, sit on the couch sort of straight-up therapy sessions. There will be a small element of that, but in general he’s there to deliver some hard truths. Your therapist isn’t typically going to tell you, “Hey man, get your shit together.” It’s not quite the same as Harvey, but its not totally different either.

The name partners came up with a plan by the end of the episode, so is this the start of Pearson Specter Litt 2.0? Or are there more hard times in store?

They have a plan in [episode] 601, but they have not implemented that plan yet. It’s not the same thing to have a plan and to successfully execute it. So episode two is sort of about them executing that plan, which obviously is going to have complications. Things never go the way you think they’re going to go. Harvey is going to have an opportunity to step up and maybe get them through this thing… then after that they will try to institute the process of rebuilding.

Why have Benjamin (David Reale) stick around?

The premiere was very much constructed like a play in that it all took place in a given location to some degree. Like it’s all that night in the firm. So you need things to advance your story, you can’t just have people sitting around and talking. You need something to happen, little incidents to shift things -- when the delivery food guy comes in for example. So I think it was just born out of that. We thought, “What if Benjamin didn’t leave?” Once we kind of came up with that we thought it was perfect because Benjamin is dedicated to the firm. He’s kind of a Louis-like guy. In my mind you could almost imagine Benjamin lives in that room and he never leaves it. We loved him as a character so we put him in there.

Does he continue to be a strong presence in the show?

We have not put him in again this season for no reason other than we’ve gotten so full. One of the challenges with Mike in prison is that many of his scenes have to be with people in prison. We can integrate him to some degree with our people, but he’s in there with other people. So it eats up screen time, which has its pros and cons. And one of the cons is that we haven’t gotten to see Benjamin again as of yet, but we may.

Do you have anything to add?

We took a huge chance sending Mike to prison at the end of season five. That could have been a series finale in my mind. We decided to not make it a series finale and to see what happens on the other side. We hope fans stick with us, and we think there’s a lot of compelling stuff on the other side of what happened. 

Do you have a new endgame in mind?

I do not. I don’t know how long the network will have us, but in my gut it’s always been at least seven. But I don’t know if they would have us for more than seven. And practically speaking with people’s contracts, we don’t know who’s leaving. But the real thing is I’m just trying to get through this season. I’m 98 percent sure we’re going to have a season seven. Once we get closer to it, hopefully I will know at the beginning of whatever our last season is that it’s our last season. That’s when I will try to construct how the show should end.

Suits airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on USA Network.

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

Twitter: @amber_dowling