'Suits' season 2 finale postmortem: Creator talks Mike and Rachel
Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched Suits‘ season 2 finale, stop reading now. Creator Aaron Korsh talks key scenes below, including the one fans of Mike (Patrick J. Adams) and Rachel (Meghan Markle) will be talking about until the show returns this summer.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: That steamy Mike and Rachel sex scene! I’m surprised that wasn’t trimmed.
AARON KORSH: That’s the trimmed version. (Laughs) When a scene blows me away the first time I watch it, I try not to touch. There’s so much work to be done, if I love a scene, I just say, “Let’s move on.” But I thought maybe it’s just a tiny bit long, like two or three seconds. But I watched it again, and I was like, no it’s perfect. Then I thought let’s let the network see, because they’ll have an opinion and it will influence me. And when we got it back, I think there was some division at the network over whether we should cut it by two or three seconds, and they ended up saying, “Leave it.” Then [NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Chairman] Bonnie Hammer watched it, and she does not often weigh in with notes. She’s working at a higher level. But evidently her thought was that it should be two or three seconds shorter. So we cut about two or three seconds out.
What was cut? Anything juicy?
No. They did not say what two or three seconds. It was what I’d felt, if we cut two or three seconds, it might make it more impactful. When I had written the scene in my head, I thought they would start and you would be on their faces and you would stay on their faces. There’s one shot still in there in particular where you pull back wide and get a long shot of what’s happening. To me, when you pull back superwide, it takes it to feeling like you are being voyeuristic watching them. I don’t like shots that jar you from feeling like you’re in it with them in a scene like that. We had several of those, so when they said to cut a few seconds, I chose to trim all but one of the superwide shots. Director John Scott — he’s done a lot of Nip/Tuck, so he’s done a lot of sex scenes — really helped stage it and walk it through. We all worked on it together, and I will say, as far as her legs going up: That was Meghan. At some point, Meghan was like, “Can I put my leg on the shelf?” And I said, “Well, if you’re gonna put one leg up, you better put the other one up.” It was a team effort. (Laughs)
Was this always the scenario in which you envisioned it happening?
We knew at the beginning of the season that we wanted to go for it and have them have sex in this last episode. And I always had it in my head that Mike tells her his secret, and then they have sex. The writers of Suits are amazing. Most of the time I come into the room and I’m bombarded with great ideas, and it’s just a question of picking and choosing which ones I want to do and helping them come to a cohesive ordering of them. We card all the scenes, with a synopsis. And the card on the board was, “Mike and Rachel tenderly bang.” They pitched me this story where they have sex quietly, and he makes her eggs gently the next morning. But I was like, “No.” (Laughs) I said, “Let’s change the card to ‘Mike and Rachel angrily bang.'” The actors’ execution of that scene was so good. They both worked individually with me on the fight leading up to the sex scene. They added a lot to it.
What kind of discussions did they have with you?
Originally, I had pitched them this, that Mike was gonna tell her the secret about him not going to Harvard. But when I was writing the scene, I was having a little trouble, and I ended up having Rachel having called Harvard and basically knowing he didn’t go to Harvard and forcing him to tell her. And I think they both felt, and definitely Patrick felt, that Rachel can know that there’s some lie but she should not know that he didn’t go to Harvard. The barrier that was between them was the secret, and Patrick really wanted Mike to be the one to take it down. I thought it was much better the way it turned out. Mike takes it down, and it’s gone, and they come together. It’s with this passion that has been building for two years. They kind of tear at each other. After the first very take of it, I thought if somehow someone came down and said, “You’re done, you can’t shoot anymore,” we would have been able to cut a great scene from it. Their intensity was outstanding.
In the sex scene, they do a lot pauses. We’ve heard Mike and Rachel talk before about people not making good choices when they go through something traumatic, which they both have just done. Were the pauses the characters asking themselves if they should do this, and then repeatedly deciding they want it so badly it doesn’t matter?
I’m pretty sure it was the actors’ idea that so many times, they have kissed and then they don’t come together because something stops them. So they wanted to tease the audience and make them think, Oh, one more time they’re not gonna get together. And then, Oh wait, they ARE gonna get together. I liked it, because I was a big fan of Firefly, and sometimes I’d be watching and would think to myself, “That’s ridiculous, how are they gonna do that?” And then one second later, they’d say, “That’s ridiculous,” or they’d answer the question that I had just asked. It was so satisfying to me. That was what we were going for: People being like, Oh man, they’re just not — Oh wait, they are gonna get together.
It’s a bold move to have them get together at the end of season 2. Why now?
We, collectively as a writing staff and probably the actors, too, were a bit tired of having them back-and-forth will-they-won’t-they. I know the fans were tired of it. We were really scared. I’m afraid to do it. It changes their dynamic. But we thought, okay, it’s just time. Let’s see what happens and take the leap.
Will there be a time jump when season 3 picks up, and will they be together?
We’re thinking that happened on a Friday night, and we’re gonna come back on Sunday night. It’s not locked in stone yet, because I haven’t finished writing it. It starts with them dealing with the fact that they slept together and she knows his secret and deciding what they’re gonna do about that moving forward. It’s one thing to have accepted it in a heat of passion, it’s another thing if she’ll accept it moving forward. It’s not dissimilar to Harvey and Jessica’s relationship and Harvey and Mike’s relationship: They’ve all undergone some sort of betrayal of the underlying agreement that they had. There was an underlying agreement between Harvey and Jessica that they wouldn’t be on opposite sides, and if they were, they wouldn’t cross a line, and they’ve both crossed that line. Same with Mike and Harvey, with Mike going against Harvey, even though Mike didn’t feel that he did that because Mike didn’t know that Harvey wouldn’t be made partner. But still, Harvey feels like Mike fractured that relationship with a betrayal of some underlying trust. And I think even though Mike and Rachel end up sleeping together, Mike has still obviously betrayed Rachel’s notion of who he is by his being a fraud.
Take the analogy of a married couple: If there’s an infidelity in the marriage, that’s betrayal of the fundamental bond of marriage. Someone can say, “All right, I found out you cheated on me, and I’m gonna attempt to forgive you.” But it’s one thing to say that, and it’s another to actually forgive them. You didn’t forget that betrayal happened. You’re not gonna never mention it again. You have to deal with it, and it’s gonna keep rearing its ugly head. There are moments when that’s gonna happen. Even if Rachel were to accept Mike’s secret and say, “I can be with you,” the real impact of it is gonna keep hitting her again and again and again. She couldn’t get into Harvard and work there, and he didn’t even go to Harvard and does.
Harvey never wanted Mike to tell Rachel the truth, so Harvey and Mike will have to deal with that — if Harvey finds out.
It’s funny because Harvey fired Mike, right? Mike’s not fired, but Harvey cut Mike out and threw him away. If you look at Harvey and Mike’s relationship, they were on a break. (Laughs) So when he betrayed Harvey by telling Rachel, it’s like, “You fired me. What the hell? I’m bound by that still?” So when that comes out, it’s gonna be a big deal.
NEXT: Harvey and Donna, and the merger
Let’s talk about Harvey and Donna. I liked that she convincingly told Scotty that she is not in love with Harvey, and yet, we’re still curious about Harvey and Donna’s past thanks to him questioning if Donna was talking about herself when she said he had to fight for what’s in his heart.
Gabriel Macht says I never use his adlibs. He gives me good-natured grief about that. And that was a Gabriel Macht adlib, and I’ll tell you why. We had written that scene, and there was a line that we ended up cutting that ended on Donna saying, “Can’t you see what’s staring you right in the face?” What happened was Sarah Rafferty did a couple of versions of the scene: One where it was so clear that she was talking about herself and not Scotty, and one where it was kind of medium. Gabriel said he feels like Harvey would call her out on that, that their relationship is solid enough that he would say, “Listen, is this about them or is this about you?” And I said, “Look, we can try one that way, but the truth is I don’t think Harvey would do that.” And he said, “I think they’re close enough to do it.” And I said, “Yeah, but all you’re doing is basically forcing her to admit that she loves you, and what good does that do you? It’s just humiliating her.” But we tried it, and he did it, and it worked. Her “no” was so definitive that we ended up using his adlib. I was really glad he did it, and I want him to recognize that it got in the final episode. (Laughs) I want to be able to send him the article. But in all seriousness, it was a great addition to the scene and it took it to another level.
I’ve said this before: I think Donna, in her conscious mind, she knows that she had feelings for Harvey in the past, and that maybe in a perfect world she wishes they could be together. But she recognizes that Harvey is not in a position to want to be with her and a relationship with him is not in the cards, so she mentally thinks she’s moved on from him. But there are moments that peek through subconsciously where that is not the case. Like in 214, when he said, “Look at you, you look beautiful,” that kinda got past her conscious mind and it was a flicker of something.
We never got Harvey’s answer about whether he wants Scotty in New York or London. Should we plan on seeing her in season 3?
We answer that question in 301, obviously, what his answer was. I can say this: Whatever decision he makes, it doesn’t necessarily have to be permanent, and it will definitely have ramifications. Whether he decides to have her work in New York or London, it won’t be the end of Scotty’s impact on Harvey.
So what’s the status of the merger when we return?
They’re going to continue moving forward with the merger. Since it’s only a couple of days later, what that means remains to be seen.
Should we be nervous that we never heard what Darby’s terms were for Harvey? Could he spring those on him at a later date?
That is a good question. Maybe I should pose that to the writers room. We kinda felt like Darby is above needing to give terms. In our minds, when Darby has that conversations with Jessica and says, “If I don’t beat him, he won’t respect me,” I think that was his point. And really, Jessica became the proxy for Darby’s terms: you stay, extend your non-compete, and welcome Darby with open arms. That’s the pill that Harvey has to swallow, and we’ll see if he’s able to swallow it or not next season.
Some of Jessica’s lines this episode had me saying, “WHOA!” Like when she told Harvey, “You’re gonna stay here, be humble, and learn your godd— place.” Were you nervous about taking her that far, or just excited to go there?
Well, I always have concerns when we do things that are far and impactful. A perfect example is Mike and Rachel. If we’re pushing it far, I’m always worried, “What are we gonna do after this?” But my feeling is, if we don’t take chances, we’re definitely going to fail. In that scene, [Gina] added the “boy” in there. The line was, “I just kicked your ass,” and she made it, “Boy, I just kicked your ass.” And I was like, “WHOA. Keep doing that.” I thought it was great. I think there were even harsher takes of her on some of that stuff.
The experience of watching Harvey’s scene with Louis, seeing the fear on Harvey’s face, was interesting. I know you’re a fellow Justified fan, and on that show, our hero Raylan isn’t perfect. In a similar way, I know this defeat gave, and will continue to give, Gabriel new layers to play. But there was a part of me that was like, No, I want Harvey to win.
(Laughs) As that scene was written, there were some lines in there where Harvey talked about being afraid a little bit. The staff had come up with them collectively, and I was onboard with them, but when I read them, I took them out. I was like, “I don’t want to hear my hero say he’s afraid.” He can be a little bit afraid. Like you said, he can play it a little bit, but I don’t want to hear him say that and certainly not to Louis. It’s good that Louis is speaking Louis’ fears and Harvey’s having the same fears, but we get to see it and the characters in the Suits world don’t. His back is to Louis for most of that piece. The other thing is Harvey loses, but he lost because Jessica really had to go out-of-bounds. If you watch Raylan, people have gotten the drop on him in certain cases, but he’s never lost a fair straight-up gunfight. You never want them to be beaten just flat-out.
What more can you say about Harvey and Jessica’s relationship in season 3?
Let’s just say Harvey is a super-competitive person, and he didn’t just lose to Jessica, she stuck it to him. He did not lose with grace, and she did not win with grace. That is gonna have impact. He’s gonna struggle to deal with that scene in the bathroom and the aftermath of this whole episode. He’s caught a little bit between a rock and a hard place, because he made this bet and he’s basically a man of his word. On the other hand, he lost to her and that’s gonna stick in his throat for a while.
Scotty told a story about Harvey’s brother. Will we meet him in season 3?
I imagine we will meet Harvey’s brother, and possibly someday his mother. But we don’t have those definitely in the works yet, and we’ve probably broken through about episode 6 of season 3 so far. So, I don’t know when or if it’ll be season 3.
What’s the story behind Louis’ mudding?
(Laughs) The story is Louis, evidently, at some point in the past, got into a “mud off” of sorts with someone else and had lost that time because both Harvey and Donna know it. (Laughs) We were trying to break the story, and the [writing] staff had come up with a great one that Louis meets British Louis, and they had them bonding over “mudding.” I don’t know whose idea it was, I don’t even know if “mudding” is a real thing that people take pride in, but there are definitely places that you go to take mad baths, so that’s real. But the twist I put on it was I didn’t want them to bond over their mudding, I wanted them to fight over their mudding and then bond over something else. One of the things I realize we like to do on the show is start out with ridiculousness — they’re fighting about mudding, it’s insane — and get to a real place. We really learn about how Louis became who he is when he tells that story about being bullied, and then he bullied back, and then they didn’t bully him anymore, and then they didn’t even talk to him anymore. It’s like he became a bully in that moment. Nigel sees it and recognizes the same thing in himself.
Mike’s Downton Abbey conversations with Darby were great.
Patrick called and said, “Listen, if we’re gonna have Conleth Hill, I’ve got to have a scene with him.” And I’m like, “Okay.” So we wrote that. Let’s have some fun with it. I am a Downton fan, but I’ve only seen season 1, because I just haven’t gotten my act together to see after that. Our writer’s assistant gave me a DVD copy of season 2 to watch, but it didn’t work in my DVD player.
I’ll be curious to see if you hear from anyone about the Lady Mary spoiler.
We feel like it’s season 1, and they’re in season 3 now, so you can’t get upset about spoilers from two seasons ago I hope. But Darby saying he abhors spoilers is me. I hate spoilers. I don’t want to hear ’em, and I don’t want to give ’em out. I never watch the “next week on” for Justified or whatever show. I want to be surprised.