After leaving Suits at the end of season 7, actor Patrick J. Adams will return as Mike Ross for the legal drama’s ninth and final season in this Wednesday’s episode. To be sure, having Mike back in the mix is a cause for celebration because it’s been quite some time since we’ve seen the fake-lawyer-turned-real-lawyer banter with his mentor, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Mact), and the rest of his friends at Specter Litt Wheeler Williams. You know, those classic Suits scenes. However, Mike isn’t returning to New York just to hang out with his former colleagues — he has business to attend to. So the writers had to strike the right balance between enjoying the prodigal son’s homecoming and making sure there’s some drama to it.
“The big challenge of it was wanting to have more fun and needing to have some drama. It was picking and choosing how many kinds of fun, banter-y scenes we could have before we go, ‘Hey, these people are not on the same side,’” Suits creator Aaron Korsh tells EW. “[With] Mike coming back, you would be tempted to have a hello scene with Louis [Rick Hoffman], and a hello with Donna [Sarah Rafferty], and a hello scene with Harvey, and a hello scene with Katrina [Amanda Schull]. Every one of them would be good, but then the episode would be over and you had 10 hello scenes, or something like that.”
Instead of multiple reunion scenes, we’ll see Mike duke it out with Harvey and Samantha Wheeler [Katherine Heigl] on a case. “Mike comes back because he has a client that is under contract with one of our clients. He comes to Harvey because he thinks it’s Harvey’s client, but it turns out it’s the client Harvey gave Samantha [in the season premiere],” Korsh says. “Harvey, being Harvey, isn’t going to tell Samantha that Mike did this because he wants to take on Mike himself, and then Samantha is going to sort of say, ‘This is not how it’s going to go.’ So it ends up being Harvey and Samantha against Mike. We definitely have some fun. We have some twists.”
Unsurprisingly, Mike and Samantha, who joined the firm after Mike moved to Seattle with his wife, Rachel (Meghan Markle), get off on the wrong foot when they meet for the first time. “I wouldn’t say their initial meeting, meaning the entirety of this episode, is super-collegial,” Korsh says. “Mike doesn’t care about Samantha. He’s coming back because (a) he has a client, and (b) he really wants to take on Harvey. So he doesn’t even want to deal with [Samantha], and I don’t think she likes that.”
While Mike and Samantha don’t immediately hit it off, it was the opposite for the actors who play them. “She was just lovely,” says Adams of working with Heigl for the first time. “Our first scene was in my old apartment. We tore through it. It was really, really fast. We laughed a lot, and that was it. It’s really nice to have someone new here because it changes the energy. It’s all the same stuff that I enjoy but with a new flavor.”
There’s definitely a world in which you could imagine Mike returning to New York and uniting with Harvey on a case, but the writers decided to stage a battle between the two instead because they didn’t want to risk being redundant. “As much as I love to see them working together, that’s sort of like a throwback,” says Korsh. “I thought maybe it would feel like we were trying to recreate an old episode that wasn’t where we are currently in the show or with these characters. It would feel forced if they just worked together on a case out of the blue.”
Furthermore, Harvey and Samantha’s fight with Mike ends up having huge repercussions for the back half of the season. “The way we did this and the ramifications of what happens worked much better for the entirety of the season,” Korsh teases.
Suits airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on USA Network.