Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched Suits’ summer finale, “Stay,” stop reading now. Creator Aaron Korsh takes us inside the episode and teases what’s to come.
Entertainment Weekly: How early in the season did you decide you’d bring Travis Tanner (Eric Close) back in the finale to be the big foe?
Aaron Korsh: [Laughs] Oh, we did not decide that until we were writing episode 10, I think. It was very late, and they were very gracious to let us have [Eric] in terms of his availability with Nashville. I think in the end we got him on a Monday, but it was possible we were going to have to shoot him on a Saturday. When we were writing that deposition scene, we were laughing because he’s just taking shots at all of them.
You knew that you wanted to bring Scottie (Abigail Spencer) back earlier?
With Scottie, if Harvey was going to ask her to stay in episode 10, we had to know if Abigail Spencer can stay. We had to work that out a little bit, and we were able to. When Harvey was either going to send Scottie back to London or have her stay in the beginning of the year, we did not know whether she’d be available or not. I didn’t know where I’d end up on the conversation of wanting Scottie to stay or not on Harvey’s behalf at the time. I felt like it would be 51/49 one way or the other. I was like, “Since we don’t know if we can have her anyway, I’m gonna save myself the gut-wrenching decision of coming to a 51/49 split and let’s just send her back.” Then when we wanted to bring her back, we decided it’s worth it, let’s pursue this, and it worked out.
There are six episodes in the back half of the season, which resumes in early 2014. How much will we see of Scottie?
Obviously Harvey has offered her a job, and clearly her requirement to be wooed was that he come clean with some feelings for her, and he did. So she’s willing to take him up on his offer. There is the slight question of whether Harvey did or didn’t run that by Jessica before he offered that. And it turns out that he probably didn’t. It doesn’t create some major conflict between Harvey and Jessica – we felt like we’ve had enough major conflict between them. But it does allow for them to have a discussion about how they’re going to run this firm. Starting in episode 11, we’re finished with Darby. It’s Pearson Specter. How are they going to make decisions when the two of them disagree? So that conversation is prompted by Harvey’s wanting to hire Scottie, and that will lead to an episode that is surrounding whether Scottie is going to come and stay or not. Not wanting to give away the answer, I will say regardless of whether Scottie stays at the firm or not, Harvey’s feelings in terms of wanting to pursue a relationship with her are going to be explored in the last six.
In the end, Louis realized that Sheila wants to be monogamous and they shared a romantic moment amongst her files, which include every Harvey student. She told Louis not to touch the files, but he did – and he saw Mike doesn’t have one. An actual albeit lighthearted quote from my notes: “What do you have against happiness?!”
[Laughs] It’s funny, because when we got the network notes for episode 10, the word was that Jeff Wachtel, who’s since got a promotion but was president of USA at the time, really loved that it was ending on a real positive. And then I just read a review that talks about how Suits is such a positive show as opposed to Mad Men and Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. When I read a lot of tweets about how gut-wrenching this show is and how difficult it is to watch, and this review was saying it’s so lighthearted and optimistic, it amused me. My point is, happiness is relative. I think happiness is good. I actually like it, and sometimes I do feel like we may be too gut-wrenching. BUT, I feel like all happiness is not compelling. You need drama, which inherently is often conflict. And I also feel like Louis being curious about Mike’s secret is more interesting in what’s going to happen. It may be ominous, but no one’s left with a gut-wrenching moment or torn apart in this episode. All of the relationships between the three couples are ended happily.
What can you tease about what Louis does next?
Louis is in a little bit of a conundrum. A lot of times we think about putting our characters in boxes where whatever decision they make is gonna cause some ramifications for them. I feel like Louis, he’s got a little pebble in his brain – why isn’t Mike’s file there? – and it’s gonna make him wonder about that. But he can’t ask Sheila because Sheila told him not to look at those files, and we’ve established Sheila as a rigid character with a rigid moral structure, and if she found out that he did that, he’d be in big trouble. So he’s gonna wonder what it means, and he’s gonna pursue various avenues trying to figure out what it means, and it’s going to play out in an interesting way. That action is going to ultimately have major impact on some of the characters and the relationships in the firm over the course of the last six episodes… I was like, are we gonna end another season on someone else finding out Mike’s secret. I know people seem to think that’s all we do. That’s a legitimate thing to say. I was like, “Eh, you know what, too bad. Screw that. I like it.” What I liked about is we’ve had this relationship with Louis and Sheila for two years, and we know who Sheila is – she works at Harvard. To me, it was so natural and organic that that’s how it happens, that it was too good not to do. That was not a last second thing. We’ve had that in the works for a while.
And I think what makes it interesting is that it comes after we’ve seen Harvey and Louis finally have that breakthrough moment in episode 9 where Harvey told Louis he respects him.
The fact that you’re connecting that scene, with Louis finding out about the file – I like that, because we did. That scene was so impactful to me. I loved that scene. I told Rick [Hoffman] and Gabriel [Macht]. I think episode 9 might have been my favorite Louis Litt episode ever. Maybe. I hate to pick favorites, and I don’t think like that. But I loved the arc of Harvey and Louis in that episode, that Harvey is so harsh on Louis and then in the end, when he gives Louis the respect – some people were wondering if Harvey was sincere, and I think he was totally sincere. That scene was very much on our minds in terms of the resolution of this thing we’re starting with Louis looking into Mike. That scene is pivotal in moving forward in the last six.
Ending on Louis not finding Mike’s file also helps bring the show back to the core cast.
I think we started getting like, “We’ve had enough of this case,” and I’ve read enough feedback that I think other people were ready for it to be gone a long, long time ago. You have to see these things through when you start them, and to me, it served a good function in terms of its impact on the firm throughout the year. Now we can come up with something new that is going to affect everyone. It’s a little less machinations in terms of power struggle within the firm and a little bit more interpersonal stuff.
Rachel ultimately decided to sign Jessica’s document admitting she knows Mike’s a fraud in exchange for Jessica promising to break the firm’s rule about only hiring Harvard alums for her – and she’ll go to Columbia. That’s not something we’ll see in the next six, right?
Often times when you get into law school, you’re getting in – I don’t even remember – in April or May, and you’re not starting until several months later. So that will likely be dealt with in season 4.
Tell me about the way you melded Mike’s story with Rachel deciding where to attend law school and Harvey realizing he wanted Scottie to stay and be in his life.
We had a scene that we cut between Donna and Rachel, just because we were too long, where Donna tells Rachel, “Mike’s an orphan. You leaving him isn’t like a normal person leaving another normal person. You’re all he has in his life right now.” But we felt like Rachel could come to that on her own. Mike obviously understands that Rachel needs to make this decision, but in his mind, Columbia is just as good as Stanford, and I think he’s legitimate on that. He just doesn’t understand her thinking of I want to make a list of pros and cons and then factor in the relationship. That thought process is very frustrating to him, and in addition, he’s in love with this woman, so he seeks out Harvey’s advice because Harvey’s his mentor and who he has other than Rachel. When he goes to Harvey to ask about this, Harvey can’t help him. That’s not Harvey’s area, as Harvey says. Sometimes you think the person who’s your mentor professionally is going to have all the answers about everything, and when you see that they don’t and they’re human, it’s an interesting moment. That leads Mike to look inward to decide if I go Harvey’s way, I’ll never have any relationship, but if I go my way, I’m gonna push her away. I think he really does a very heroic thing in actually giving her space. And then later, when Jessica throws the wrinkle in [of that document], I feel like Mike does a super heroic thing when he says, “Actually, I think you need to go to Stanford to get out of this thing.” But that scene where Mike goes to Harvey is the first hint of getting Harvey to realize he keeps things separate. It gets Harvey thinking. Then, separately, with Tanner going after Scottie, and Harvey having to sit there and watch Scottie be humiliated and realize she loves him, it starts to get to him. It makes him realize he cares about this woman more than he thinks he does. And then the last scene, when Mike feels like he’s going to lose Rachel, and he’s so sad and so moved and so emotional, and Harvey sees that, it’s percolating in his mind: Mike is talking about when you finally get to some moment of happiness, some real moment of connection, it’s all taken away. The totality of it all makes Harvey realize he wants to be with this woman.
Was it scripted for Harvey to put his hand on Mike’s shoulder? It was a disarmingly sweet gesture.
You know what, hold on. I’m gonna see if we scripted him touching him or not. [Laughs] Think of Harvey in season 1. To me, Harvey just letting Mike have the day off after seeing he can’t help him – the progression of Mike and Harvey’s relationship from the beginning until now. It’s Mike having more effect on Harvey than Harvey has on Mike in terms of relationships that I find very interesting. Let me see here. [Checking script.] Yep. “Harvey puts his hand on Mike’s shoulder.” [Laughs] We did it! But I will say a lot of times we put action lines in there, and it’s just a guide. When the actors are on set, they block things and elevate it so much. The writer is usually there to oversee things if it’s something that’s gotta be a certain way, but the actors do what feels right, and I guess in that moment, it felt right for them to do the actual action line.