SPOILER ALERT: The story includes details about the Season 7 finale of USA Network’s series Suits.
Tonight’s two-hour Season 7 finale of Suits bid farewell to original cast members Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle, whose characters Mike Ross and Rachel Zane got new jobs in Seattle and got married in the final minutes. Louis’ idea to get Jessica the money she was entitled to from the firm by issuing a statement that distances Specter Litt from her backfired spectacularly. It put Specter Litt on the verge of being swallowed by Rand Kaldor & Zane while also contributing to Jessica losing her license to practice law in Illinois. She summoned Harvey to help her with a storyline that introduced the Chicago-set Suits spinoff, which has been picked up to series.
Meanwhile, Louis, Mike, Rachel and Donna were fighting to save Specter Litt in New York. In a Hail Mary pass, Louis and Mike offered Robert Zane to jump to Specter Litt as a name partner, joined by a few associates. He accepted but on condition that he got top billing in the combined firm. In other developments, the rivalry between Louis and Sheila’s fiancé quickly escalated until she intervened. She ultimately broke her engagement to be with Louis. Darvey may be back on with a romantic dance between Harvey and Donna at the wedding. For eagle-eyed Suits fans, this was the third consecutive finale to end with a Harvey-Donna scene in which Donna has the last line. (“It was not intentional,” Suits creator Aaron Korsh says.)
In an interview with Deadline, Korsh talks about the big new development at Specter Litt with the arrival of Robert Zane & Co. and how the merger would impact everyone. He also reveals a new detail about the new Suits character played by Katherine Heigl that will join next season, talks about Louis and Sheila’s future, Harvey and Donna’s relationship, and Adams and Markle’s final scenes. Korsh also addresses the possibility of Adams coming back for a visit in Season 8 or beyond. (You can get a glimpse at Heigl’s Samantha Wheeler in a Suits Season 8 teaser under the Q&A)
And because the Season 7 finale of Suits also served as a backdoor pilot for the upcoming spinoff starring Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson, Korsh also discloses details about the new series’ direction, tone and possible Suits crossovers.
DEADLINE: The plot twist in the finale had Robert Zane coming to Specter Litt as a partner. Is that happening, and how will that work as Wendell Pierce, who plays Robert, is a series regular on Amazon’s Jack Ryan, which was renewed for a second season?
KORSH: First of all we have had the good fortune to be able to have Wendell Pierce. I think viewers, when they’re watching television, are not necessarily aware of whether someone’s deal is as a series regular or not, they just know whether they are a regular character in our world. And we’ve been lucky enough to have Wendell as a regular character in our world while at the same time he’s been a series regular on another show for much of the life of our show, be it The Odd Couple or now Jack Ryan.
So we decided to take a chance and have Robert Zane come and join our firm and see what happens, see what that does to our firm. We do not have him as a series regular and they’ve been very generous to let us use him as much as they are. We’re exploring where it goes as we speak in season eight, but absolutely in the beginning of season eight Robert Zane is merged with our firm and it’s going to cause its own challenges to integrate those two firms and cultures and personalities within the season.
DEADLINE: Of the attorneys Robert is bringing over, will there be any familiar faces?
KORSH: I would point out that Katrina Bennett, Amanda Schull, used to work for Robert Zane so she’s going to be the one person right now that has worked at both places, which is interesting. And in addition to that he’s going to bring some interesting new people over with him, one of whom may or may not be Samantha Wheeler which is Katherine Heigl’s character.
DEADLINE: So Samantha may be coming from Robert’s firm?
KORSH: I’m hinting at it, how’s that?
DEADLINE: How will the new group of lawyers fit into Specter Litt?
KORSH: When you merge two law firms you’ve got personality mergers, but you’ve also got some sort of technical issues that you have to deal with, one of which would be, as we touch on in the finale, who’s going to run the firm. The other one is sometimes you have clients that you have conflict of interest with so you will have to drop certain clients and we’re merging those two things into helping us decide within the firm who’s going to run the firm.
DEADLINE: Zane made it clear he would be running the combined firm. Will Harvey, who was not part of those conversations, agree to that?
KORSH: Well, Zane said to Louis, “You tell Harvey my name comes first,” but it’s not 100 percent clear whose name is going to come first. I would say this. Harvey does not blame Louis for what he did, it shows the evolution of their relationship in the last few episodes in terms of the respect and trust they have between themselves versus early seasons.
I think Louis saved the firm and Harvey’s grateful. But then the question is, who’s going to be in charge is very much still an open question between Robert Zane and Harvey, and that will be somewhere resolved after the first episode but it will not be put to bed probably until the end of the tenth episode.
DEADLINE: What other conflicts are you envisioning for next season?
KORSH: There are a lot of things that are going to result from the merger of the two firms, and that’s really the overarching premise and basis for both conflict and bonding of the season. In addition, Amanda Schull as Katrina Bennett, she’s going to step up and have a larger role than she did in the past and she’s going to kind of have her own desires and wants. Obviously Donna, from a professional standpoint, is going to have a larger role in the comings and goings of the firm.
Louis is ending season seven with Sheila and with an agreement to pull the goalie, so Sheila will be a large part of season eight. We’re still going to have Lipschitz and Gretchen. Brian Altman who was an associate we met last year is going to play a role, and then obviously Harvey and Zane are going to have their push and pull along with Samantha Wheeler and Alex Williams and Donna.
DEADLINE: Rachael Harris, who plays Sheila, will remain a recurring guest star even as Sheila’s role expands in season 8, corrects? And has Louis finally found happiness? He’s been the unluckiest guy in love.
KORSH: Well, happiness I would say maybe. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a strong word but I think Louis Litt is definitely evolving and we do not currently have plans to terminate that relationship, though you never know what could happen. But Louis Litt in a relationship is always going to be a work in progress as might I add all of us as flawed human beings are. But he and Sheila are going to have a fun ride this year but it certainly will not be without its push and pull also.
DEADLINE: In the final scene, the wedding dance, Harvey and Donna looked pretty intimate. Are they crossing the line again into romantic territory?
KORSH: It was not meant to indicate a line crossing. A lot of times when a bunch of people that care about each other a lot go to a wedding, they dance with each other, they have fun, and that’s sort of what it is. About a year and a half ago many of us in the cast went to Patrick and Troian (Bellisario)’s wedding, and we’re all married but that doesn’t mean we didn’t dance with each other and have fun and laugh and have a great time.
DEADLINE: What does next season hold for Harvey and Donna’s relationship now that Paula is out of the picture?
KORSH: I certainly don’t want to give away too many things about season eight, but to me Harvey and Donna have a long-term evolution in their relationship from the beginning of the pilot until now and regardless of whether they get together in any one episode moving forward, I think their relationship is going to continue to have some push/pull to it no matter what we do in terms of their romantic involvement or not.
And it may be an evolution in my thinking where I used to say if they get together I want them to stay together. Now were they to get together I wouldn’t say I’ll guarantee they’ll stay together, but I’m also not saying whether they’re going to get together or not.
DEADLINE: This was the last time we saw Rachel and Mike together. Will we be getting updates on them next season?
KORSH: Probably. Suits doesn’t forget about people that have been on the show. Even minor characters we sometimes mention and refer to repeatedly over the years, like Lola Jensen who we only saw once, or whoever it may be. So there’s no doubt that the absence of Mike and Rachel will be played and referred to and talked about. Just think about Rachel — Robert Zane is her father, right? Obviously our characters will be aware of their absence and we will try to have them talk about them as they would in real life.
DEADLINE: Any plans for Patrick to come back for guest appearances, for directing?
KORSH: When Patrick left, he and I discussed it and decided we’re both open to having Mike come back, 100 percent. When that is will be determined by A, whatever he’s doing at the time, and also B, whatever organic story there is to tell, but I would love to have that happen. But for the first 10, I don’t see it happening just because we’re doing other things.
As far as Patrick coming back to direct, it’s absolutely a possibility. We’re still in the early stages of figuring out who’s going to direct what and we’re trying to get some new people in the works also, so I’m not sure if that’ll happen now but that could definitely happen at any point in the future.
DEADLINE: How was it filming the last scene with Meghan and Patrick. Was everybody crying?
KORSH: Because we were also shooting the spinoff, it was an extended shoot. Usually we shoot about 7-1/2 day episodes and this was a 13-day episode and we were doing some filming in Chicago. The night of the wedding was not the last shoot night but I think it was going to be the last night that we all were going to be in Toronto together. It was a 16-17-hour shoot day, and it was emotional, there’s no doubt about it. There was a wedding going on, it was going to be the last Harvey and Mike scene. I don’t think it was the last Mike and Rachel scene because they were staying back to shoot more, even though we were going to Chicago.
I would say it was emotional. I remember having a really fun talk with Meghan as we were setting up to shoot the wedding and we were just wrapping up our time together. It wasn’t my last time with Patrick because we went to Chicago and then we came back and finished wrapping it up. Patrick was the last person to shoot the last day and I think he was the only series regular shooting that day because it was his court stuff. We had a good-bye for him.
The whole thing was emotional, and I felt like we all went out on a real high note. I feel like hopefully we went out on a high note creatively but I know we went out with great feelings towards each other personally at the end of the season.
DEADLINE: Suits was originally focused on Harvey and Mike. How would you describe Suits going forward, following Patrick’s exit? Is it a true ensemble or is Gabriel Macht’s Harvey the lead?
KORSH: I think every viewer is going to have their own answer to that question. But I’ll start by saying I feel like in the last few years Suits was absolutely an ensemble show with slightly more of an emphasis on Harvey and Mike. So I think going forward it’s absolutely going to be an ensemble show with slightly more of an emphasis on Harvey. He’s at the core of the show but it’s without a doubt an ensemble. You just have too many scenes and too many stories of people that are not Harvey-focused and I think it’s a good thing.
DEADLINE: What else can you say about Season 8 of Suits?
KORSH: For season eight, I was reinvigorated and rejuvenated for the possibility of Suits moving forward. The addition of Robert Zane and the dynamics that that does for all of our existing characters I feel like gives new life to the show. Along with him, Katherine Heigl and the interaction she’s going to have with everyone in the firm, the two of them coming into our world, it just creates a brand new dynamic that is both organic to the show and really reinvigorating for me as a writer and as a fan of my own show.
DEADLINE: Let’s talk a bit about the Jessica Pearson Chicago politics Suits spinoff, which was introduced in tonight’s finale. Will the two series stay separate or are you considering crossovers?
KORSH: We haven’t really discussed doing any crossover episodes in the first season of the spinoff and we’re not currently having Jessica come in and be in the Suits world. I could see doing that in the ninth season of Suits but right now there’s no plans to merge the worlds again.
DEADLINE: There was a clear tonal difference between the Suits and Chicago spinoff storylines in the finale. Will the spinoff continue to be as dark compared to Suits‘ lighter, in times comedic tone?
KORSH: Dan Arkin is running the spinoff and coming up with the first season right now. But in my mind at least, and from what we’ve discussed, Suits ranges from sometimes incredibly silly — certain Louis things — to some heavier dramatic stuff — we certainly have had that if you think about Mike in prison with Gallo and things like that.
I feel like Suits has a wider range than the spinoff. I think the spinoff will be darker when it is darker and not be as light when it is light, but I think as they go in seasons, it will not always be as dark as it was in the finale because I think in the finale Jessica was going toe to toe with all these people. But as she gets into their world, they can be more on the same side, let their guard down and have a little fun and a little banter and a little humor. I don’t think it’s ever going to get as silly as we do in Suits. It’s definitely got a tone that’s probably two shades to the right so to speak, in terms of dramatic and darkness, from Suits.
DEADLINE: Let’s talk about the evolution of Jessica. She was a moral compass and on the rights of things on Suits but is aligning herself with some pretty shady characters in Chicago. Are we losing her to the dark side?
KORSH: I don’t think so. Suits was very largely focused on Harvey and Mike. And though we did get to know Jessica, and I love Jessica, she’s one of my favorite characters, she was not the focus of Suits. So I think in the spinoff, because we’re going to delve much more deeply into her character, I feel like she’s making a decision that is motivated by a desire to both connect with her family and do some good in the process.
That decision is a dangerous one because she’s risking falling into the dark side, but I do not think she has fallen into the dark side. So I think Jessica in the spinoff will have room for some emotional scenes with her family. We will see scenes where she’s bonding with her family which is a more personal side of her that we’ve never seen before, and we will see her be conflicted in the world of politics. But if it’s a journey between either into darkness or into redemption, my hope would be ultimately she’s going into redemption. Where it leads, we definitely don’t know yet, but that would be my hope.