'Suits' creator thinks you're being too hard on Mike

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Image Credit: Ian Watson/USA Network

The battle for Gillis Industries has fans of Suits (Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on USA) wondering just how low Mike and Harvey will go. To recap: Harvey revealed a portion of Mike’s questionable past to Gillis, and to retaliate, Mike momentarily kept Harvey’s father’s master tapes from him. To throw Harvey’s ally Louis off his game before a court appearance, Mike made Louis believe that his ex, Sheila, had gotten engaged. Letting his emotions distract him cost Louis the respect of his “best friend” Harvey, which made Louis angry enough to gloat when he cut off Mike’s best hope at an investor. Louis’ smack talk inadvertently gave Mike the idea to use one of Harvey’s enemies, Charles Forstman, against him—and Forstman will only give Mike the money he needs if Mike agrees to cut his new boss, Jonathan Sidwell, out of the deal in the end.

Bottom line: Harvey may have kindly warned Mike about getting into bed with Forstman (recurring guest star Eric Roberts), but he had harsher words for Louis, who screwed up yet again.

Creator Aaron Korsh breaks down the drama, which adds more layers in the July 16 episode (update: read our postmortem).

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Starting with Mike’s play with the tapes, his moves have been somewhat controversial. How do you see them?
AARON KORSH: It’s interesting to me, because it was supposed to be a reaction to Harvey going so personal: Harvey goes and basically leads [Gillis] to believe that Mike was a drug dealer. So we felt like, certainly, it was a lashing out on Mike’s behalf, but that it was in response to something. And in the end, he does give the tapes back, and Donna is the voice of understanding why Mike did that. It seems like fans are really hard on Mike, and not as hard on Harvey.

With the Sheila thing, the truth of it is that he tells Louis that Sheila was engaged to another guy to throw Louis off in the moment—but in his mind, he knows Louis is going to get back [to the office] and find out that Sheila wasn’t engaged. It’s a momentary thing that isn’t true. So I did not think that people would be as affected by that move as they were. And then when Rachel calls him on it, in Mike’s mind again, if he loses this thing, thousands of people’s lives are going to be affected negatively by it. If he had to put Louis through an hour of false heartbreak, in his mind, it’s not that bad. So I didn’t think this thing was on the same level as Harvey’s dad’s master tapes, because that’s just a punitive thing that wasn’t even used as a move to get ahead.

That’s how we felt about it, but I can see that people are really up in arms about it. And Mike’s traveling down a path—he’s doing things he probably never would have done before. He’s alone. It’s like him against the world. He’s finding out who he is without his anchors of Harvey and Donna.

That last scene between Harvey and Louis in the July 9 episode, when Louis gets teary-eyed saying, “I’m emotional, you’re cold. You’re loved, and I’m hated” gutted fans.
When we were in the rewrite of that scene, we didn’t know 100 percent how Harvey was going to react [to Louis screwing up again]. Harvey yells at Louis a lot—and we were trying to get a different flavor of how he was going to respond. And we had an incident: One of the editors or the assistant editors made the same mistake a few times on what’s called continuity, which gives you the timing of the show on each scene. We have to cut the show down to time, and we spend a lot of time making sure that it’s right. Finally, I was like, “I don’t want to get mad at you guys, but you keep doing the same sh–.” And when we got to the scene with Louis and Harvey, I just remembered that, and I put it in there. We have three editors, and they each have an assistant, and I didn’t know who would be editing each episode—it turns out that it was those guys. I’d forgotten it, and I certainly wasn’t going to mention it to them. The editor said that he and the assistant, when they got the scene in dailies, said, “It’s like Aaron’s talking to us through the TV.” [Laughs]

It was just a funny little thing, but I would say a lot of how I write—and how I want each writer to write—is that things remind me of situations that I’ve been in, and I draw on how I was feeling in those situations to come up with an indication of how the scene should go or should be written. So I put myself in the situation that Harvey was in: I didn’t want to keep being mad, but they kept doing the same sh–. Then we came up with the “emotional” and “cold” stuff—I forget what led to that. I thought their performances in that scene were so good.

I think fan reaction to Mike speaks a lot to Rick Hoffman’s performance as Louis. He’s had such an arc, and you’re really rooting for Louis and Harvey. So watching him make blank copies so he has a place to tear up and hearing Harvey give up on him, it’s rough.
We talk about it a lot as writers: Mike didn’t see all that stuff. We’re wanting him to have seen it, but he didn’t. This is the other thing I will say in Mike’s defense: He comes back to apologize sincerely to Louis, and the only reason he tells Louis about going to Harvey’s enemy is actually to convince Louis that his apology is sincere. He’s not going to tell Harvey [Louis gave him the idea]. He’s trying to say, “Louis, I told you that because I really am sorry about what I did.” And Mike did not overreact when Louis blew things with Gianopoulos: He respected that Louis made a move. So I do feel like Mike has some mitigating factors on his behalf, but it does not seem that most of the fans of the show take that stuff into account or care about that.

I thought about why, and probably the reason why is that you started out hating Louis, and then he’s been redeemed over the years. And you started out thinking that Harvey didn’t care about people, though you’ve kind of peeled that back a bit. I feel like Mike started so innocent. When our characters started innocently and are moving in the opposite direction, it’s harder for people to forgive that.

I remember reading once that if you start out not liking someone but then end up liking them, you actually will like them more than if you’d liked them from the start because you feel bad about misjudging them. Maybe that’s part of why the Louis stuff hits people so hard.
Yeah, that could be it.

You mentioned Mike’s traveling this path. Is it a long road?
You mean the journey into darkness or the takeover battle?

Both, really.
Certainly, the battle is not over yet, and Mike’s exploration of who he is as an investment banker is not over yet. But in the coming weeks, some things are going to change and make him reflect on his behaviors more than he has to date.

Watch an exclusive clip from the July 16 episode below.



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