'Suits' postmortem: Creator Aaron Korsh talks Louis' showdown

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Image Credit: Nigel Parry/USA Network

This post contains plot details of “This is Rome,” the Suits episode that aired on Aug. 20.

“Pearson…Specter…Litt.” There has never been a more dramatic line reading on USA’s Suits. At the end of an hour that saw Mike, Harvey, Donna, and Katrina working to secure Louis a job at another law firm, Katrina was kicked to the curb and Louis returned home. Creator Aaron Korsh won’t confirm whether Louis will get his name on the wall when season 4 resumes, but with Louis now knowing Mike’s secret, he concedes it’ll be tough for Jessica to get out of it. 

In EW’s walk-up to the midseason finale, you talked about how you decided Louis would resign at the end of last week’s episode. Tell me about deciding how he’d return.
We had a scenario where Louis leaves for a while. When I was presented with the various options of what we would do with him being gone for a while, I liked them all in theory, but they all came down to Louis would hook up with somebody and come after us. I felt like I just didn’t want someone coming after us from the outside again. When Donna left, we made her be gone from the firm for three episodes. When Mike left, there were seven episodes of him being gone. I thought, “Okay, most people are gonna think Louis is coming back. But I think most people are gonna think it’s gonna take a while for him to come back. So how about we go the other way and get him back fast?” That’s how that decision came about.

Is Louis’ Order of the Coif key, which Mike didn’t recognize, a real thing at Harvard Law?
It is a real thing. I tend to make things up and not do real things, but if we can do something real, I prefer to do that. I had no idea that was coming. We broke the story, but I left it to the writer of the episode to figure out how it is that Louis figured [Mike's secret] out, and he did some research and figured out the Order of the Coif. I thought it was fantastic. My goal in breaking this episode was to not see that turn coming, to basically feel like if you didn’t know it, you’d think that Harvey-Mike scene was the end of the episode. You’d be satisfied and happy, and then holy s–t, you get two more scenes coming that when you see them, you’re like, “Of course this was gonna happen,” but you didn’t see it coming. I rarely make these requests, but I called the network and specifically said, “Please do not tease anything about Mike’s secret being discovered in this finale.”

We’ve seen Louis yell before, but nothing like what he did at Jessica. How does this experience affect him? He’s back, but can it feel like home with all the tension that’s bound to exist?
We’re still piecing that together. I kinda look at it less as what it does to Louis and more as what it does to everyone. They are all connected deeply to this event in some way. All five of them [Harvey, Mike, Donna, Jessica, and Rachel] knew this secret, and all of them have a relationship with Louis. So Louis is without a doubt having some feelings of betrayal and gonna have some feelings of animosity, but also if he’s gonna be at the firm, existing under these circumstances, hating everyone around him indefinitely is probably not gonna be in his own best interest. But knowing Louis, that doesn’t mean he’s not gonna feel that way anyway. So there’s a lot to play. And in addition, what does Louis’ knowledge and how he’s trying to use that knowledge do to Mike’s relationship with Rachel, or Mike’s relationship with Harvey, or Harvey’s relationship with Jessica, or Mike’s relationship with Jessica? What does it do to Jessica’s relationship with Malone? These are all interesting questions that we are grappling with furiously. [Laughs]

Seeing that kind of anger come out of Louis with Jessica was so powerful. What were you thinking when you first saw that footage?
[Laughs] The truth is, many times when I’m watching a director’s cut for the first time, I have strong emotional reactions to it one way or the other—it’s not always positive. But a lot of it has to do with I had a thought in my mind for how it should be, and if it’s different than the thought of how it should be, I’m just processing that. Most of the time, the second time I watch it, I like it about a thousand times more, because then I’m more dealing with what it is as opposed to what I thought it would be. But when I first saw those scenes, they blow you away. I did definitely make some changes to them, but they rock you. It’s undeniable, and that’s a good thing. That’s what we’re going for with Suits, in particular in the season finale. Hopefully they will have the impact that we want them to have and have fans reeling and looking forward to coming back for more.

It was particularly painful to see Louis tell Donna she’s not his friend after we watched them become so close this season. How long will it take them to recover?
The truth is, I don’t know yet. As a viewer, I see both sides. Donna really cares about him and for him very deeply. She’s demonstrated that many, many times, both to Louis and behind Louis’ back during the course of this season. She didn’t really mean to betray Louis, but this secret kinda forced her into that position. So if Louis could understand that, it would probably soften his anger towards her. On the other hand, he’s got legitimate anger towards her. She went out of her way to lie to him more than once, and it touched on his relationship with Sheila. Regardless of how long or short it would take them to recover, I think it’s not gonna be easy for them to recover. It broke my heart to see that scene. But in a good way.

Are we being set up to see more of Rachel’s father in the back six episodes of season 4? We hear Rachel warn Mike that her father doesn’t do anything for free after Mike goes to him to try to get Louis a job. Then when Harvey goes to Zane, Harvey tells him he’ll owe him a favor. How soon will he cash in?
It’s interesting: We just kinda added Rachel saying he doesn’t do something for nothing as an insight into Rachel and a chance to explain why Rachel didn’t want her dad to pay for law school. We also wanted to show that she’s no dummy and understands how her dad works. And then, we had a scene that we cut that was between Harvey and Mike. Mike was telling Harvey he wanted to go tell Louis the news about getting VersaLife back, because he thought Harvey was gonna stick it in Louis’ face and Mike wanted to be gentle with him. And that got under Harvey’s skin, ’cause that was what Harvey was probably gonna do, and it made Harvey go to Zane and do the nice thing. We put in the owing me stuff kinda just for fun. We weren’t attempting to lay seeds with those two scenes. But then, of course, you go to look at the back six, and we did lay some seeds, so let’s water them and let them grow a little bit. As of this moment, it isn’t hugely explored, but we do pick up that thread. Sometimes we lay in seeds that we know we’re gonna pick up later, but half the time, we put something in and later pick it up realizing it’s been planted and we can use it. It doesn’t really matter to me whether we knew we were gonna use it or we go back and say, “Hey, about this thing?”—as long as it feels connected, I’m happy.

Harvey had another nice moment when he told Gillis that Mike is twice the man Harvey is when it comes to caring about people. That felt like an important moment for them.
It was important. I liked that he said it. I liked that Mike heard it. And it was a way to repair some of the damage that was done to their relationship over the course of the year. And that scene with them out to drinks is meant to do that also, just to get back to some of the fun Harvey-Mike stuff. We cut a scene with Mike saying, “Did you really mean that stuff that you said?” And Harvey blows it off, and he’s like, “What things? I don’t listen when I’m in closer mode.” And Mike says, “That stuff you said about me.” And Harvey says, “People say things,” which is his way of saying that he did mean it.

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