Warning: The following contains spoilers from the season 8 finale of Suits. Read at your own risk!
After eight seasons, 124 episodes, and countless tension-filled moments, it finally happened. And by it, we obviously mean Darvey.
In the USA legal drama’s season 8 finale, Donna (Sarah Rafferty) and Harvey (Gabriel Macht) finally went there. After barely surviving an ethics hearing (shout-out to Wendell Pierce’s Robert Zane for sacrificing his license to save our favorite closer), Harvey realized that Donna was the one he wanted to be with and dashed over to her apartment. When Donna opened the door, she saw Harvey standing there and could tell from the look on his face that something had changed. So without a word, she invited him in, and Harvey responded by running down the hall and kissing her. As the episode ended, the two made their way to her bedroom.
While this wasn’t the first time these two had kissed, it’s still momentous because this is the first time Harvey has seemed invested in giving this a try. In the past, Donna’s been alone in considering that there might be more going on here. Macht and Rafferty met before shooting the scene to discuss what it meant to them, and both decided that they wanted to make sure the shift — that both Harvey and Donna are finally on the same page — was conveyed in the blocking of their kiss and caught on camera.
“My focus was, in addition to them being physically attracted to each other, what is this about emotionally and why is this moment different than other moments that they’ve had? Why is it finally okay for them?” Rafferty tells EW. “In fact, the most moment important for me was the moment when our hands intertwine. We actually kept moving them to make sure they were in the frame because of that idea of them choosing each other and being partners. We felt like they were partners all along, but now this is the next level of this partnership. It’s more than just a physical attraction. There’s a lot of tenderness there and a lot of history. So it was very important to me that we find those moments on camera.”
Creator Aaron Korsh told EW season 8 originally wasn’t supposed to end like this, and Rafferty was surprised when she found out it was happening. Below, Rafferty opens up about the experience of shooting the scene, how she felt about Donna’s relationship with Thomas (Sasha Roiz), and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you react when you first read that scene in the script?
SARAH RAFFERTY: Interestingly enough, I think this has happened before in our scripts: That scene was not there when we first received the scripts. I was like, “Oh… you don’t want us to see this yet, or you’re not sure.” Like, this isn’t quite finished yet. So I thought it might be happening.
When I saw it, I was really excited to talk to Aaron about his process for getting there. All along, he’s been the captain of the ship. It’s actually kind of nice to not have to make those kinds of decisions and to just be like, “Okay, he’s got this.” I was just really excited to hear his reasons about why now. I’m particularly interested in what’s going to follow, because I feel pretty strongly that, for Donna to make that choice in that moment after all this time, she has a pretty strong intuition that Harvey’s in a different place in his life emotionally. She sees that he’s ready, and she’s open to it instead of protecting herself from what she fears he’s not ready for.
When you first started shooting the season, did you have any sense that this is where it would be heading?
No. I had had such a wonderful time actually working with Sasha, and it was really refreshing for me that Donna finally had a boyfriend. Donna hasn’t had a boyfriend, really, since Max Beesley’s character [in season 3]. So being able to have that happy, falling-in-love Donna for a minute was really a pleasure, and to be able to dig into that. It seems from my Twitter that the fans were actually enjoying it too. I was really focused on that. The relationship with Thomas didn’t feel like it was being developed in order to lead here, did it, do you think? I think it was just being developed.
I was surprised by how much I liked Thomas as a character and how into their relationship I was.
Yeah, he’s a good guy. No one’s perfect in the Suits world, but he’s a good guy. They had chemistry and he was a good match for her, I think. But of course, that’s going to set off some chain reactions. I just didn’t know the chain reaction was going to be this.
This scene has been a long time coming. Did you feel that sense of history when it came time to shoot?
We talked about what their internal dialogue was. What are they actually saying to each other in those moments of quiet? We even had a little bit of a bigger moment after the first kiss where we pulled away and looked at each other and decided to continue on. That was important to fill the scene because at the end of the day, you may not have a lot of words, but you’re definitely shooting a scene where communication is occurring between two people. A lot of communication has to occur from one doorway, down the hall, to choosing to walk through the other doorway in her apartment.
The thing that sort of stuck out is how Harvey not only shows up there, but that when she gives him the opening, he rushes to her. The blocking really conveys that he’s fully going there, because in the past, Donna has been the one to push the issue.
Yes, Gabriel and I specifically chose that — that she opens the door in that moment of like, “What the hell is going on?” But that look on his face, that intense vulnerability that he’s feeling when you see him, is something that I think she always knew she might see. In that moment, the idea is, “Oh my gosh, you have arrived as the person who can emotionally be present, and if you truly are, I’m going to make space for you.” I took three steps back and made the space for him to decide, like, “If this is it, then I’m here. If it’s not, then turn around. But I can read that look and this feels different from any moment in our years together.”
Alex helps Donna realize that she told Thomas about the deal because that was her way of closing the door on Harvey. When you shot that scene in the penultimate episode, did you play it that way in your mind?
We don’t know what’s coming next, right? We don’t have the next script when we’re shooting the current one, so no. I think that is interesting because Donna has an uncanny ability to understand other people’s emotional lives, and it’s really interesting to see that she has a blind spot in her own, that she needs an Alex to illuminate that for her, or that she needs to call her mom. I was so happy that Donna was finally calling her mom after eight years to say that I’m having a really hard time making a decision, I have to choose between two people that I care about. When Donna decided to do that, I wasn’t aware that she was doing it to — it wasn’t a chess move to make Harvey do anything. That wasn’t how we were paying it. She was really stuck and this is a good guy and she didn’t want it to be her fault. How is she going to live with herself if she didn’t tell him? It’s kind of great that Donna is maybe choosing love instead of work for once. I think the fans are interested in her choosing love or choosing personal life. It’s also very interesting for women that sometimes there are sacrifices on both sides. Whichever side you’re leaning to, you’re leaning out of the other.
When we spoke at the beginning of the season, you mentioned how you wanted to dig into Donna’s personal life. What was the most illuminating thing for you in getting to see those flashbacks?
I actually thought, and I had talked about it with Aaron years and years ago, that her parents were not together. It was really wonderful that they decided that she has a great relationship with her mom and that her mom chose her dad even though he was making decisions that caused financial turmoil in their life, and that she has that example in her life of her mom being astute. You gotta ask those questions: Why is Donna the way that Donna is? So in comes the Lolita Davidovich character, and we get a better sense of that. I love that, and I love the warmth that they have. It’s also very important to learn about the things that didn’t work out so well in her past. I was particularly moved by, as I always am, the passage of time and that moment when she says, “Mom, let’s go to Paris.” Just that these ideas of the things that they’ve missed and the regrets in their lives, and can we make up for lost time? Maybe that puts her in the emotional place she is in when Harvey comes to the door, like, “What have been doing all this time? The years have been passing. Let’s go to Paris, metaphorically. Let’s listen to Oprah and live our best lives and be in the moment.”
What are your hopes for the final season?
That’s such a hard question for me to answer right now because I think it’s bittersweet. We’re so lucky and grateful that we’ve had nine years. That probably won’t happen again on another show. That’s not really how things work. So, it’s very sad to say goodbye, but it’s also like, “Oh my gosh, how can be anything but happy that we go to do this?”
I think the idea of having the pressure of tying it all up is something that intimidates me. I don’t know if that’s possible. I hope that we end the season in the place where we continue to dream forward about their lives. We’ve lived their lives for so many years with our fans that I hope we leave them in a place where they continue to live on in the imagination, because one thing we’ve definitely learned doing this is no matter how we play a scene or which cut they decide to use, which is completely out of our hands, the viewer brings an equally powerful element to the interpretation of the scene in the way it lives once it’s on the screen and once it’s out in the world. Sometimes the scenes are interpreted or received in a very different way than maybe we even played them. I think that’s a lot of the magic of the storytelling. So I hope that people feel that these stories are living on, and that it was a fulfilling and enlightening time to just go on this journey. I hope the fans that have been with us all along are happy with how we end, because we’re so grateful for them that we got to do it.
Suits has been renewed for a ninth and final season.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.