By Chancellor Agard
January 22, 2019 at 03:56 PM EST
Ian Watson/USA Network
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Suits has a lot of surprises in store for the back half of season 8.

“There’s a lot of excitement in the back six,” creator and executive producer Aaron Korsh tells EW“There’s a lot of people coming back from our past that we haven’t seen in a while. You know, big villains, people we love, people we hate, a lot of big moves, and a lot of surprises. A couple of big things that happen in the first 10 come back and re-emerge in the back six, for Louis in particular.”

We wouldn’t expect anything less, given where we left things with the long-running legal drama in the fall. The first half of the season ended with both Samantha (Katherine Heigl) and Alex (Dulé Hill) being promoted to named partners after a season-long competition, and more significantly, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) becoming managing partner.

When the show comes back on Wednesday, we’ll not only be dealing with the new status quo, but also the matter of Donna’s (Sarah Rafferty) new relationship with Thomas Kessler (Sasha Roiz), one of the firm’s oldest clients, which is sure to create some drama. And you can expect the new power structure to affect the latter, especially for Donna.

“Donna is going to feel responsible in large measure for Louis having his leadership role in the firm, because she’s the one who went to Louis and said, ‘You have to step up,’” says Korsh. “She might feel she went out on a limb and inserted him into this position, [and] if he’s not doing well, she might feel responsible and overreact in her own way. In another sense, if she has a choice to make between tending to her new relationship or spending time at the time at the firm, Louis might say, ‘You put me here. I need your help.’ She has to make a decision: Is she going to go out and spend time on her new relationship, or is she going to help the guy that she installed into power when he needs her?”

Below, Korsh previews Louis’ managerial style, Donna’s new relationship, and more.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can we expect from Louis’ tenure as managing partner? 
AARON KORSH: I think what’s going on with him when he first gets it is, he’s afraid. He finally gets the job, and he’s afraid not necessarily of whether he can do it, but he’s afraid of what it’s going to do to his relationship first and foremost with Harvey, but Donna, Zane, everybody.

His initial reaction to the job is to say, “I want everything to be the same as it always.” That’s sort of what the first episode is about a little bit — Louis is in denial that he has to step up and take on a different role. Then in the next episode, he realizes, “Okay, I was kind of shirking and hiding from my duties. Now I want rise to the forefront and take on my duties head-on.” That creates a different kind of conflict where he possibly overcorrects a little bit in that second episode. Then as we go, he seems to balance out a little bit and reaches a state of equilibrium, and then other things end up happening at the firm that sort of take on a larger context. That’s a long way of saying that Louis’ tenure is a little bit of a bumpy ride, it’s a little bit of a wild ride, because there is some humor in it, and there is certainly a fair share of conflict.

Throughout the show’s run, Harvey [Gabriel Macht] has kind of bucked authority. How is he faring with Louis being in charge?
It’s kind of the mirror image of Louis. If you go back and look [at] the pilot, their relationship has come such a long way. Back then, Harvey was, for lack of a better word, the superstar quarterback and the favorite son, and Louis was kind of the neglected step child. They really were like brothers, and over the years, their bond has grown so much tighter, and it’s been much more the good side of a brotherly dynamic than the bad side.

I think both Harvey and Louis in the beginning of [episode] 11 are afraid of Louis being in charge. Harvey is afraid of what taking orders from Louis is going to be like, and Louis is afraid of what giving orders to Harvey is going to be like. So, they both try to steer clear of each other, but circumstances don’t allow them to do that. Then in episode 2, Louis wants to [be a leader] and he tries to inspire Harvey with his leadership, but then he oversteps his bounds and they have conflict in that episode. Then things somewhat stabilize from there. So, I think Harvey is rightfully afraid of Louis’ tenure. He does buck against authority, and in particular, this is a person he has always been higher than on the food chain and now all of a sudden, he’s lower than them on the food chain. So, it’s definitely going to make for conflict.

Why was this the right time to introduce a new love interest for Donna? 
You’re giving me a trick question, because some fans will say it was never the right time to give Donna a new love interest that wasn’t Harvey. Look, I think the writers came up with the idea of this client that Donna develops some feelings for, and I liked the notion of what it did for Donna, for Harvey, and for the firm. The notion that it was a client, I like it as a storytelling thing [because] it can have ramifications on everyone if it is a client. But also I think in real life, people that work so hard, such long hours, that’s where they meet the people they’re going to have relationships with, because that’s where they are all the time.

I don’t know if I was thinking, “Is it the right? Is it not the right time?” but when they pitched it to me, I liked the story and I liked the things we came up with and where it went. I can say, having this person be a client of the firm ends up causing a real kerfuffle within the firm based on, initially, it’s not having to do with the fact that it’s Donna dating someone and its direct effects, but more the firm is put in an awkward position, more specifically Harvey is put in an awkward position. He has an awkward decision to make, and he makes a different decision probably than he would have had this person not been in a relationship with Donna, and that causes some real big doings toward the back half of the season.

Ian Watson/USA Network

How are Alex and Samantha handling the new regime since they just got promoted? 
It feels to me, in particular the early episodes, that Samantha and Alex kind of get over their fight and accept their new position. I feel like they do accept that they’re not enemies anymore. We actually have an early episode where Alex’s wife shows up. It turns out she’s a lawyer also, and she, Alex, and Samantha have a really nice story where they deepen and bond their relationship, all three edges of that triangle.

We then move on and explore their relationships with other people in the firm, not just each other. We definitely very much explore and expand and deepen Samantha’s relationship with Robert Zane in the course of the back six, but also with Katrina. They have more than one interaction together, and that’s nice to see. in addition to exploring [Alex’s] relationship with Donna, Louis, and Harvey, we also have a nice story with Alex and Gretchen, which I really like, coming in the back six. A little bit of the back six is about mixing and matching the characters in ways that hadn’t been done before.

So the shady thing Alex did to win the competition isn’t going to hang over them the entire season or create more antagonism?
Correct. As you will see in episode 11, it does have consequences and it does reverberate and it does cause a story in 811, but it kind of ricochets in a different way on Katrina, because Katrina was the mechanism by which Alex pulled the shady sh—. But I think eventually, very quickly, Alex and Samantha get over their animosity toward each other.


Suits returns Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on USA Network.

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