Spoiler alert! The Season 5 premiere of USA’s Suits showed us a Harvey Spector (Gabriel Macht) that we’ve never seen before — one that has panic attacks in the Pearson Specter Litt restroom because he can’t accept that Donna (Sarah Rafferty) isn’t coming back to work for him. Creator Aaron Korsh takes us inside the premiere and teases what’s to come.
Before we get to Harvey’s mental state, we have to talk about the guest appearance of another Justified alum (following Margo Martindale, Eric Roberts, and Neal McDonough): Jere Burns. Is this the only time we’ll see him?
You know, that’s a good question. I happen to have had the good fortune to meet him on set, and I told him, “My wife is going to flip out when she finds out I met Wynn Duffy.” We have not written him in again, but some of our recurring characters we didn’t design initially to come back again. We find ourselves missing them, and then we’re like, “Hey, what if we bring this person back?” So you just put it in my head to possibly bring him back, because he was great.
What was the inspiration for his entrance, where he starts quoting The Silence of the Lambs to Harvey and Mike (Patrick J. Adams)?
We quote a lot movies, right? That’s what I’ve always done my whole life. It seems like there’s two types of people you meet: some that can quote movies, and some that never know what movie you’re quoting. They just don’t do it. Rick Muirragui, who’s one of our long-term writers, and I quote movies together all the time, and Dan Arkin, one of our writers, never seems to know what movie we are quoting. But, there are a few movies he can quote, and he can quote them excellently. One of them is Silence of the Lambs, and he’s always imitating various lines in that movie.
So one day, he hadn’t done it in a long time, and we were like, “Hey, do some Silence of the Lambs.” So he starts doing it, and Rick and Dan start laughing about it, and we were like, “What if Harvey and Mike just go somewhere and somebody starts a quote off with this Silence of the Lambs stuff?”
We thought to ourselves, “Is it insane?” Honestly, we were like, “Is this just awful?” And we just tried it. We put it in the script, and then we were sure we were going to cut it. It’s hard to make the turn from being funny and kind of a dufus to get serious. When we were thinking about it, I was like, “I know who can pull this off: Jere Burns can pull this off.” And he did.
Now, we can get to Harvey’s panic attacks. Why did you want to take him to therapy (with Dr. Paula Agard, played by Christina Cole)?
We were discussing the season early on, and it was tough: I wanted to try changing things up. Season 2, you knew it was the season we’re going to battle Hardman. Season 3 was the season the British came in, and Harvey was going to try to take over the firm from Jessica. Season 4, Mike and Harvey are going to go at each other in a knock-down, drag-out fight. You knew what the season was going to be about from the beginning, and the bulk of many episodes covered that topic. So we thought, “Let’s not do that this year. Let’s try something where it’s not just one scene that we know is going to happen every week.”
I think it’s got some pros to it and some cons to it. I think the pros are, sometimes people get tired of this scene, the Hessington trial or whatever it was. But the cons are, what are we going to do instead?
So I believe it was Dan Arkin who brought up the idea of Harvey in therapy. At first, I was very resistant to it because I had a lot of trouble wrapping my head around, what is going to get Harvey into therapy? He is not an introspective type of person. So then I thought that if he had a panic attack, that will get him into therapy. You’re going to go to therapy if you have no other choice.
We had a lot of challenges in terms of working therapy into a show like Suits. If you’re going to have real therapy scenes, they can take a long time. We’re not In Treatment and we’re not The Sopranos, so we had to figure out how we could do it in a Suits way. A lot of times, he’s in therapy throughout the course of an episode, and so you can flashback and even use it as a framing device, so hopefully that’s a successful approach.
Louis (Rick Hoffman) and Donna go through their own roller coaster ride this episode when he thinks that she’s going to leave him. In the end, she starts a can opener-style tradition with Louis involving cake, in honor of the one he threw away when Mike returned to Harvey. Louis seems confident in her loyalty now. What’s their next hurdle?
Well, first of all, he “seems” confident is the keyword. Louis has got a wound. He has a deep-seeded insecurity, and by the way, so does Harvey. Harvey sort of has a fear of being abandoned and Louis does, too. So this move has touched on both of their little hurts, and you could say they both just had a scab ripped off. Even though Louis got what he wanted, it still exposes his fear of losing it. So, any little thing can trigger a massive incident between the two of them.
In episode 2, Lewis starts something… He has the best of intentions, and it doesn’t work out well. It causes conflict between he and Harvey, and then Harvey responds. So Harvey sort of touches on Louis’s big fear of losing Donna.
Harvey ends up with the list of potential new secretaries. How soon do we meet his new Donna?
We meet her in episode 2. I’m interested to see how fans feel about the new Donna. I love the new Donna. Her name is not Donna, it’s Gretchen, and the person he chooses is sort of in reaction to what’s happened between the two of them. He doesn’t want to recreate the same situation. She develops as a character throughout the year, and I really am enjoying her presence.
Related: ‘Suits’ Firm Adds a New Partner
We heard the name Jack Soloff (to be played by John Pyper-Ferguson) mentioned this episode. We meet him in episode 2 as well?
You sure will. He’s a big part of the season. He’s basically a partner who’s existed within the firm, though we have not met him, and he gets a sort of new position as head of the Compensation Committee, and uses that to get new power within the firm and sort of come after Harvey.
What’s next for Mike and Rachel (Meghan Markle)?
The fact that they got engaged leads to various things, one of which is Mike having an arc with [her father] Robert Zane. I’m a huge Wendell Pierce fan, and I think it’s a great opportunity for Mike to have some growth as a lawyer, not with Harvey, and it opens up some possibilities. It affects Mike and Rachel’s relationship, but it also allows Rachel to have another interaction or two with Harvey.
And what’s next for Jessica (Gina Torres)?
This year we shake up our dynamics in another way. In the wake of Jeff Malone [leaving her and the firm], I think she has a slightly different approach to life when she’s giving people advice. The actions of Jeff Malone subtly lead to her being more open to things at work and having a small mentor-mentee relationship with Rachel.
Suits airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on USA.