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It’s clear that Mike (Patrick J. Adams) and Rachel (Meghan Markle) have been living in a state of denial about their future ever since they got engaged at the end of season four. But everything came full circle in last week’s “Mea Culpa” episode, in which Mike’s former flame, Claire (Troian Bellisario) returned with his secret in tow when she was assigned as his opposing council on his very first case as junior partner.
When the action picks back up in this week’s episode, the fallout will continue to weigh on Mike and Rachel as she marches on with wedding planning, which leads to more concerns about how the guest list could expose her fiancé as a fraud.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Markle to get her thoughts on filming those Rachel-heavy scenes with Adams’ real-life fiancée, Bellisario, whether Rachel is growing any the wiser about her situation, and what’s in store for the star-crossed couple.
What kinds of preparations did you make for “Mea Culpa”?
It was five years in the making, and it feels good to finally come out with a bang. I didn’t know it was coming but I was so excited when I read it because it’s the kind of material I’ve truly been waiting for. We’ve watched the progression of Rachel from being really savvy and having this intellectual prowess to it very quickly shifting into this more puppy love version of herself. Then in season three, I just cried so much. Not me personally, but my character was tearful about everything, I’ve appreciated being able to play all these different layers of vulnerability and whatnot but then to have something where she’s flexing some muscle… and of course the stakes are so high, there’s some gravitas behind it.
What I didn’t anticipate happening was I got the worst cold of my entire life the day before we started filming. I lost my voice. I’m shocked that it turned out the way it did and you can’t really tell. That was the most tumultuous couple of days I’ve ever had filming, for sure.
Now that she’s realized what she’s signing up for with Mike, are those puppy love blinders coming off?
I wouldn’t say that Rachel has blinders. Everyone around her is making her aware of what a risk this is and she really is realizing the stakes of it. In the next few episodes it really comes to a head — as though it hadn’t already in this one. The difference would be before it was more puppy love in its approach because they were living together, they’re a happy couple, but they weren’t engaged. They weren’t really talking about the logistics of building a life together. Now, the fact that this is becoming more and more real, Rachel is defending it with such earnest. I look at it from the outside and go, “What is she thinking? Rachel, this is not the right life choice for you.” But that’s the joy of playing a character. I may not always agree with her choices but I certainly want to sell them in a way where I go, I might not get it but I can sympathize with how much she loves this man.
Did you feel the weight of playing a scene in which two females were going toe-to-toe the way you and Troian Bellisario were?
To really just be head-to-head with another woman where you both feel as though you’re on the same level – that was really exciting to play. Troian had just flown in the night before for her scenes so we didn’t have any time to rehearse. I shot her an email to see if she wanted to but we were both so busy that we weren’t able. That may have in fact made it even better because what it did was put us in this power play of really trying to find that nuance in what that would be like. That was one of the first scenes we shot together. It was really quite a way to start the introduction of it, especially coupled with this scene that comes later in the episode where Rachel’s really begging her for her help.
Jessica seems to be grooming Rachel this season. Are you playing that mentorship aspect?
Jessica’s definitely grooming Rachel. Now that Rachel is acting more like an associate and she has this role that is much more prevalent within the firm, yes. Without question Jessica’s a really strong benchmark of the kind of person that Rachel wants to be in the world. It’s really nice to do those scenes with her, because just as Rachel gets a little nervous around Jessica despite their relationship, I have this great friendship with Gina [Torres] off camera I still get a little nervous too. There’s this amazing presence that she has that’s unnerving. It’s great to see how that translates onscreen also.
Last season, Rachel had a breakdown for taking on too much with school and work. Now she’s also got a wedding. How is she surviving?
Her plate is insanely full but it’s all purpose-driven. She wants to be a lawyer. I think she will end up being a partner at that firm at some point. She wants to see this through with Mike. She is the ultimate overachiever. Could it come to a head again at some point? I imagine that it probably would. But I could also see Rachel fighting to the death to make all of it work because that’s just who we’ve always known her to be.
Rachel is finally wearing her wedding ring, is that a sign of good things to come, despite the scenes between Mike and Claire at the end?
I can’t spoil anything. Mike Ross has a really heavy decision to make and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Not just in this moment but really in the life of their relationship. If Robert Zane were to find out… It’s just all of those layers of it, so Rachel is really making a bold statement in how much she is standing by her man. All I will say is, I really hope she doesn’t end up heartbroken in whatever capacity that may be.
Do you think Mike and Rachel are doomed? Sound off in the comments below.
Suits airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on USA.
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