'Suits' creator talks 'Pound of Flesh' (and what's next)

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Image Credit: Ian Watson/USA Network

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen this week’s episode of Suits, “Pound of Flesh,” stop reading now. Creator Aaron Korsh talks about the “guns-down” hour that gives Sean Cahill (Neal McDonough) and Charles Forstman (Eric Roberts) more ammunition.

Mike didn’t really want to get in bed with Forstman, so he hadn’t officially taken his money yet. In the end, Forstman went behind Mike’s back and got Jonathan to accept it—twisted—and was like, “We’re partners, even if you don’t want to be.” Tell me about casting Eric Roberts. As a viewer, you almost feel like Forstman could knock off Mike at any moment.
First of all, as you know, I’m a big Justified fan. I had seen him in Justified last season, and [1985's] The Coca-Cola Kid is one of my favorite movies. We thought, “He’s a different way to go.” He’s a great actor that’s not overexposed, and we thought, “Let’s see what he brings to this Forstman character.” And he has a menacing quality to him that feels different from most other characters we’ve seen. He feels like a guy that enjoys manipulating people. You might have felt that this is just a one-dimensional bad guy, but he really feels like he brings an enjoyment—a little bit of a sadistic quality, but in a believable way. We’re very happy with his stuff to date.

Will Forstman be a big part of the season moving forward?
He’s involved moving forward, no doubt about it. He complicates Mike’s life, and Harvey’s life, in fun ways.

Cahill now thinks that Mike and Harvey could be in cahoots. Is that the next evolution of Cahill’s attack?
Yes. You’ve got Mike and Harvey in this battle for this company, and now you have someone else coming in and suspecting them of colluding on this deal. And they’re both doing things that are skirting the edge of legality and ethics and what have you to win. As we see, Jessica and Harvey have to concoct a way to buy this stock without buying it on Logan’s behalf—and that’s not colluding with Mike, but it’s doing something illegal. You have someone that’s all of a sudden going to look at them—it just throws a big kink into the battle and can change who’s got the upper hand. So the investigation and the takeover battle are starting to affect each other going forward.

The stuff between Donna and Louis was great, as always. Did you just want to get Rick Hoffman into that outfit when Louis joined Donna’s production of The Merchant of Venice for one night only?
[Laughs] I can’t quite remember, but once we got that idea, it took about five minutes to come up with that whole story because it was so much fun. Its first incarnation was probably a little more comedic, and we always try to ground them in reality later on in the episode and make them mean something in the end. Donna fans have been really wanting to learn more about her backstory, and I feel like we learn both why she chose to become a legal secretary and about her family—how she chose security over the risk of becoming an actress. We learn what her middle name is, and we do it in a comedic way. As an aside, one of our writer’s middle name is Roberta, and that’s why we did that—because it made me laugh when we found out her middle was Roberta.

I think it continues the bond of Donna and Louis. In the end, you reveal getting Louis out onstage was for Louis’ own good—she wanted to help him get over his stage fright. We wanted to connect that—that Donna knows Harvey’s been angry at Louis and Louis has felt shunned once he found out about Malone. Louis is feeling put down a lot, so this was also a way to give Louis and Donna some nice moments. As far as this season has gone so far, this feels like a little bit more of a lighter episode than some of the others. We wanted to have a sort of guns-down episode, which is when Harvey and Mike go to their dinner, and in addition to that, we’ve been pretty relentless on this takeover battle, so we wanted to give a little air and have a fun emotional thing—and that also led to inspiration for that last scene with Harvey and Donna. Because we thought, “We’ve done this whole thing, and we haven’t mentioned Harvey and Donna at all,” and you realize that he knows what’s going on with her and he cares about her.

It’s funny to hear you say it’s a lighter episode when Rachel has a health scare and ends up in the hospital. That’s the level of drama you’re working at this season: “Hospital’s a light episode.”
[Laughs] Well, I guess I would say there are a lot of lighter scenes. But I see fan reaction, and I think people say, “There was a lot more victories in the first season and a lot more lighter stuff.” I feel like it’s sort of a natural evolution of the show to tilt it a little bit to the heavy stuff, because sustaining the light stuff over a long period of time—maybe it’s just for me—becomes less interesting. But we still always try to put in light and fun stuff as well.

Like Louis and Harvey’s Karate Kid crane kick scene last episode. Was that all scripted?
The crane kick was scripted, but Harvey was just supposed to push him over with the slightest touch of a finger. But instead, they did the tie stuff and we liked it, so we left it in.

We need to talk about Rachel: So she faints at law school because she’s so overworked. In the hospital, she dreams about Logan asking her to marry him but she says no—because he’ll always be a fraud. Then Logan turns into Mike: Is she thinking that Mike and Logan are both fakers, or that if she can forgive Mike for being a fraud than she can forgive Logan for being an adulterer? How should we read what’s going on in her mind in that moment?
We took a couple of cuts in that scene. The scene had a long ending with Mike saying, “I love you like I loved Jenny and Tess…” and it just ended up being a little bit more confusing. The initial idea was that we’re seeing a flashback to when Logan asked Rachel to marry him. Then we thought, “Let’s not make it a flashback. She’s been sedated, and sometimes when you’re on sleep aid medication you can have some weird dreams.” So in our mind, she had that moment with Logan at the end of [the previous episode], and she’s been trying to avoid him all of [this one]. She’s feeling the stress of working super hard, going to law school, this guy is pursuing her. She is at her wit’s end. I think it’s her subconscious mind’s way of trying to process: Does she have feelings for Logan? Has she always dated people who, in one form or another, were some kind of fraud in her mind?

So that triangle continues on.
It continues on, and the thing that leads into [the next episode] is the fact that, when she gets back into the office and Logan’s sent her flowers, she realizes that he’s not just going to go away. He leaves her a message that they like the Piedmont Avionics idea, right? So in other words, she’s going to be stuck having to work with him more. And he’s going to continue sending her flowers, and he tried to kiss her. She’s got a problem on her hands. So that’s going to lead into episode 6.

Rachel’s taken some heat for having an almost-moment with Logan. I think she’s under a lot of stress, and this thing’s taking a toll on everyone to some degree. I think part of what we wanted to do this episode was to see a little bit of a reconnection between Mike and Harvey, even if it’s just a small interscene of that, and to see that something can happen that can get them to put their guns down and have a talk. Mike does tell Harvey that he understands what Harvey did in going in to Gillis, and Harvey tells Mike he understands what Mike did with Louis. Harvey doesn’t blame Mike for the Louis thing—Harvey blames Louis. Harvey tells him it was harsh, but it was brilliant. He kind of tips his hat to him. So I think it’s an interesting episode for Mike and Harvey. And I’ll say that [next week] is a big episode. If we took a little break in 5—which maybe people will think that we did, and maybe they won’t—6 is a major episode.

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