'Suits' season finale: Creator Aaron Korsh talks cliffhangers
SPOILER ALERT: USA’s Suits ended its first season last night with more than one cliffhanger: What will Trevor, who found out that Mike was dating Jenny by listening to a pining, drunken voicemail from Rachel on Mike’s phone, tell Jessica about Mike in revenge? At what moment in the past did Donna and/or Harvey think about crossing a line but decide against it because they could never go back? And what the hell do Harvey and Donna do with a can opener before he begins every trial? Let’s see what creator Aaron Korsh has to say about those questions, and where we might be headed in the long-awaited season 2.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The first question is obvious: What do they do with the can opener?
AARON KORSCH: I have some notions as to what they do, but there’s no definitive answer currently. [Laughs] I will tell you the story of coming up with the can opener. Originally, there was no can opener. You were wondering, Were they having sex in the office? What was going on? I wanted to imply that maybe they were, but then answer later when Rachel asked Donna ‘Have you ever?’ and Donna says ‘No’ and it’s truthful, so then you’re wondering, well, then what did they do? There was some thoughts that it should be a little less sexual innuendo in the front, so the can opener just popped into my head. There was a big debate: Do we tell people what they do with the can opener, or do we not tell people what they do with the can opener? It’s kinda my feeling that people want to want to know what the can opener was, they don’t really want to know. It’s gonna drive them crazy in a great way. I watch Twitter. I don’t think it would be ablaze if we said what the can opener was. It’d be a couple of comments. But because you don’t say it, people are like, “What was the can opener?!” I try to gauge what I would want as a viewer.
And what’s the gymnastics video Mike and Jenny referred to?
[Laughs] The story there is, originally, there was no line of dialogue there. It was Mike talking to Jenny, and she wants a ritual, and he says, “I can get behind that” but you didn’t know what she says, so it’s like the can opener. For some reason, the network, and they were not alone on this, thought it was weird to hear Jenny on the first half of the phone call and not hear her on the second half. So in editing, we were just kind of kickin’ around stuff. Gavin Barclay, our post-producer, actually came up with a different line — “Remember that website you tried to get me to look at?” — that we were gonna use. When they recorded them all, Gavin picked the other one because he thought it sounded better, and it broke his heart. But it showed he put the show’s interest above his own. With both the can opener and the gymnastics reference, the viewer can either think a dirty thought about it or you can think a clean thought about it. It’s like a Rorschach Test.
Was the idea that there could’ve been a moment for Donna (Sarah Rafferty) and Harvey (Gabriel Macht) in the past something that was in your mind from the start of the show, or did it develop over the course of the season?
I always felt like Harvey, to me, would never sleep with anyone in the office because he doesn’t have to. It’s kinda similar to in the beginning of the season when he says he wouldn’t sleep with someone else’s wife, not because of morals but because it’s a pain in the ass. It’s mysterious: Is he really not doing it because of morals and he doesn’t want people to know that he’s an ethical man? But in any case, he doesn’t need to do it because he’s so good-looking he can have any woman, so it’s too big of a problem to do that in the office. So I never thought that Harvey and Donna had actually done anything, but two attractive people who have worked together for a long time, and if it’s 12 years, they would have been in their late 20s or early 30s, so how could they not have had some moment where they were tempted at least? I feel like Sarah brought that in that look.
Was that look scripted?
No. Sarah brought it, and we talked about it a lot, what it meant to her and what it meant to me, and in the end, I thought it was great.
Will you explore what that moment was Harvey and Donna next season?
Most likely, yes. That look is an intriguing thing. There’s a story there. Whether we tell it in season 2 or in the future, I can’t be sure. But I’d love to tell it.
Gabriel and Sarah have actually been friends for more than 20 years, and now their daughters are best friends. Did you know that during casting?
Gabriel kind of recommended Sarah for the role, and we said to him and to her we’ll obviously take a look at her, but we weren’t gonna give her that part just because he recommended her. She had to earn it like everyone did, and she came in, and she was just hands-down the best for the role.
Donna and Louis (Rick Hoffman) have such a fun relationship that as a viewer, you want to see them more. But then you don’t want their awesomeness to be diluted. Is that hard to balance?
It’s always a challenge to do that. You can’t do it every episode, or it’ll feel like too much. What we have yet to do is give them a real story between the two of them. We’ve just given them scenes together. Maybe next season that will be something that would allow you to see them more, but it’s not just a comedic kind of thing. The way it happened was in episode 105, we were a little short and we needed to go back and reshoot a scene. I remembered Harvey asks Louis for a favor and Louis says he’s gonna ask for a favor back, and we never see what that is. Why don’t we add that scene in, and why doesn’t he ask for Donna, because she’s such an amazing secretary? It’s kinda funny that he’s like, “I want Donna” but not in a sexual way. [Exec producer] Sean Jablonski actually wrote those scenes, and they were so good together that you wanted to see these people together more often. I feel like if you love Suits, a large part of what makes it so great is the actors improv particular moments throughout an episode, and those moments are often my favorite moments. From top to bottom, we have no weakness, we only have amazing actors. All the actors are great at improv, in particular, Sarah and Rick are just so good at that.
That scene with Louis demanding to be made senior partner, and Jessica (Gina Torres) shooting him down so quickly it was like she was Indiana Jones pulling out a gun instead of a whip — his reaction was amazing. Was that scripted?
That was not scripted. He added that last bit of comedic capitulation in the end, which to me made the scene. Originally, it was supposed to be Jessica saying, “I don’t respond to threats. I make them. If you ever want to be senior partner, call your cousin. Call your cousin now,” and then cut right to Harvey in the DA’s office slamming the results down. But Rick did it in the rehearsal, and I thought it was just amazing. To me, the character is likely to stew on that — he wants to be partner and he just keeps not getting it. Even though he gave in, it’s definitely a potential seed being laid for next year in terms of how he’s gonna feel about that.
What can you say about the Trevor cliffhanger?
I have notions of what’s gonna happen next year but have not locked it down yet. I think it would be cheating the audience to have Trevor not something say that is of major impact to Mike. The bomb that he’s gonna drop has to be a significant one. We can’t defuse the situation by him just deciding not to say something. We actually filmed him telling her a couple things, just for fun and to have the option — we may not show either one of them.
Could we see the new D.A., played by Chi McBride, return in season 2?
It’s not set in stone either way. I loved him, I loved this character, and if we land on it, I would love to bring him back. When the writers regroup, I have a thousand things I’d love to do next year and there won’t be room for every one of them. There could be an arc in there. He suspects what Harvey did [to get the confession] in the season finale, so you could have him investigating Harvey a little bit, and that would be a recurring role if we decide to go that road. I probably wouldn’t bring him back for just one episode.
What other story lines might we see in season 2?
One of things I had wanted to do this year was see Grammy a little bit more, and somehow we kinda got away from her and we didn’t pick her back up. To me, I’d like to see his relationship with Grammy lead to an impact on his life somehow, be it someone from his past comes back into play or figuring out what exactly happened to his parents, there’s some mystery there. With Harvey, why is Harvey not in a relationship and doesn’t seem to have ever really had a meaningful relationship with a woman? I mean, he may have, but we don’t know that. That’s a question that is often answered by exploring someone’s relationship with their parents or siblings or something. So finding out what his relationship with his father or mother is like seems like a good way to answer the question about his relationship with women, and then we just have to figure out how that story is told so it’s impactful in the present day. And like we talked about, Louis and the partnership and what’s gonna happen with that. A lot of people want to know what happened to Hartman. Who’s Hartman? Where is Hartman of [the firm] Pearson Hartman? I want to definitely meet him and have him have some impact on the firm. I don’t know if that will be in season 2 or the future. Trevor and Jenny, will have to figure out what’s gonna with them. Obviously, Rachel, is Rachel is gonna take the LSATs? Is she gonna start going to law school? What’s her grander scheme? Maybe digging in a little bit to Jessica’s personal life. Maybe Donna’s personal life. Those are all things that are on the table, and we won’t be able to do them all, but I’d love to.
I loved that episode when Harvey found out Jessica had an ex-husband and the scene in the bar when he awkwardly tried to comfort her.
A lot of people love that scene. Harvey’s a tough character: If you played it exactly as written, without what Gabriel brings to the table, I think people would not love Harvey. Gabriel, as a person, is the opposite of Harvey. He’s a sensitive, sweet, gentle, kind man. He brings that to Harvey in subtle ways, like in that touching her hand moment. It was Jon Cowan, the writer’s idea, to have Jessica have a husband and be married and Harvey hadn’t known it. It was a bold move to go into not of one of your two main characters’ personal lives so early in the season, and I was glad he pushed for that.
Where does Harvey’s love of movies come from?
I love quoting movies. All of my friends and I always quote movies, and I always wondered why for a lot of TV shows, it’s an unwritten rule that you don’t quote or talk about TV and movies. Maybe it’s because you’re shining the light on you are a TV show, and you don’t want to make people aware of that in the moment, but to me, real people quote movies, so that’s where that comes from.
Last question: How are we going to make it till next summer for a new episode of Suits? Has there been any talk of webisodes or something like that?
It’s not been talked about. I believe there’ll be a DVD coming out [of season 1]. I don’t know if it will satisfy viewers, but to my knowledge, it will have deleted scenes, a gag reel, and we are scheduled to do commentary. And look, sometimes I get on Twitter or Facebook and say something. [Laughs] You never know, maybe in the next few months I’ll come out with what the can opener really was.
Just FYI: Gabriel will be getting asked that question a lot, so you may want to prep him on how to answer when people are trying to break him.
[Laughs] He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him.