[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of Suits. Read at your own risk.]
Suits finally revealed who turned Mike (Patrick J. Adams) in on Wednesday's episode, and it... all could've been avoided.
After learning that Gibbs (Leslie Hope) had received an anonymous tip from a general Harvard faculty address, Mike and Harvey (Gabriel Macht) immediately assume it was Gerard (Stephen Macht) and dispatch Louis (Rick Hoffman) to go there to tell him to keep quiet. But when Louis reads the email, he realizes it's not Gerard. He knows that idiosyncratic phrasing like the back of his hand: It was Sheila (Rachael Harris). Sheila tells Louis she sent the email after someone called to fact-check an upcoming article on Mike's meteoric rise in the legal world and she couldn't find his student file. She thought Louis would be pleased that she's protecting Harvard's and Pearson Specter Litt's good names, but slowly realizes that he has known Mike is a fraud. When she refuses to retract it, he asks her not to come forward. "I never was going to come forward, Louis," she says. "Now leave me alone."
Meanwhile, Gibbs puts pressure on Harvey and Mike by going after Donna's (Sarah Rafferty) dad James (Derek McGrath), a man with a history of bad business deals whom she has taken into custody over a seven-year-old shady real estate project in which Harvey refused to invest back then. When James is charged with bank fraud, Harvey, at Mike's request, cuts a deal with Gibbs to save him (and his relationship with Donna): She'll accept a vaguely worded letter Mike procured from Gerard saying he's a good lawyer, drop the charge against James, and Mike's case will go to trial. Everyone's feeling good that they can bluff their way out of this until Gibbs strolls into PSL with a subpoena for all of their files. She didn't renege on the deal -- Sheila came forward. Gulp. And if that's not enough, Gretchen (Aloma Wright) confesses to Louis that she was the one who pitched the Mike article to ABA Journal as a surprise for Harvey.
So how can Mike get out of this now? Executive producer Aaron Korsh gives us the scoop -- and how he landed on Sheila being the rat.
You said you had a philosophy for who outed Mike. Was this it?
Aaron Korsh: Yes. I feel like the writers' first thought was Logan Sanders. They had a number of choices ... but all of their choices were primarily revenge-motivated -- Soloff, Hardman, Forstmann, and Logan getting revenge on Mike so he could get Rachel. Or Robert Zane or Laura Zane trying to break up their daughter's relationship. It was all, for the lack of a better word, for selfish reasons, not positive reasons. To me, when a lot of people found out about Mike's secret, they used it. Louis used it to leverage himself to make partner. Jessica covered it up partly because of loyalty to Harvey and partly not to make her look foolish. She certainly didn't think to turn Mike in. She just didn't want to fire him and make herself look bad. Claire almost did the right thing and handed him in, but didn't do it. I wanted Mike to be caught because someone found out and just did the right thing. They didn't do it to get personal gain, they didn't do it for revenge, they didn't do it to make sure their daughter wouldn't marry someone. They didn't use it for their own ends. That's why I wanted to land on Sheila.
Did you also want it to be accidental? It just snowballed starting with Gretchen proposing the article.
Korsh: I think that's more interesting, and sometimes that is what happens in real life. You work hard to keep something within a tight group of people and you have your eye on other people, and then something just happens innocently or out of the blue, and everything escalates. Gretchen was never targeting Mike. Sheila was never targeting Mike. They didn't even know about [his secret]. Sheila just found out he didn't go to Harvard and told someone. She just did it because it was the right thing to do. She didn't do it to hurt Louis. She didn't even think Louis would care. She would think Louis would like that. This is a person who's defrauding both Harvard and Pearson Specter Litt. I just wanted someone to finally say, "This is not right" and turn him in. She's just doing it because a crime has been committed and she's reporting it. She was the perfect choice.
Is Louis going to feel guilty because him badgering her caused her to go public?
Korsh: There may be a little twist on that. Even if he's the one who forced her to go public, the cat was sort of out of the bag anyway. He wasn't the one who caused her to send the email in the first place. Obviously at different points in the back six [episodes], different people are gonna have finger-pointing at each other for different reasons. To be fair to Louis, he tried to go up there to get her to retract it. He failed. And he is the one who figured out it was Sheila in the first place. Mike and Harvey thought it was Gerard. We certainly have not seen the last of Sheila ... but we do have a little bit of a twist on what's coming with her.
What can you tease about the trial? How are they going to use this to their advantage?
Korsh: Trial's coming. I'll just say, look inside your own knowledge of the legal system of America and you'll see many, many cases where we were positive someone was guilty of something and they got out of it. That doesn't mean all of these are not guilty -- obviously Mike is guilty of this -- but it's possible that we can win this thing. ... It's exactly like what Harvey says: They don't need to prove Mike is a lawyer, Gibbs needs to prove he isn't.
Obviously, trust, betrayal and "who might turn on who" is a big theme. The argument between Donna and Rachel is emblematic of that: They're each standing by their men and sort of threatening the other. As the trial goes on, is the group going to come apart more or find a way to stick together?
Korsh: That's a great question. We put that scene in because in my mind that scene is, like you said, emblematic of "Who are you gonna stand with?" Donna's in Harvey's corner and Rachel's in Mike's corner. Ironically, Mike and Harvey are in each other's corners. I would say, not even probably, each one would fall on the sword for the other if they could. But they're trying not to fall on the sword at all. Gibbs is sort of forcing Donna and Rachel each to choose a side or contemplate which side to choose. It's sort of a Sophie's Choice and it's naturally gonna put strains on their bond. ... When we did that, the studio and the network were somewhat uncomfortable with it. They were like, "How could we leave this like this?" I was like, "Well, how would it be in real life?" We talked about it and we said, "Let's leave it open for this episode." They're friends. This is true for all six, but in this case, they're gonna come apart and they're gonna come back together and have healing. That's not the last scene the two of them are gonna have with each other and they're gonna understand each other's position. At the end of the six [episodes], that is the real question: Are they gonna stand together and survive this thing or are they gonna be torn apart by it?
Donna and Harvey were almost torn apart after the whole thing with her dad. Given what Louis said to her last week about putting herself first, will Donna always stand by Harvey?
Korsh: Donna fortunately never had to choose between turning on Harvey and standing by her dad in the end. We had a line that we cut but it's still implied. How could she know what she would truly do unless she was forced to choose between Harvey and her father? It was such a terrible, horrible thing to have to choose. Fortunately, she got out of having to make that decision, but I don't think we could know what she would've done. This is a man you're not even in a real relationship with, or at least one that you might want. I think that episode was really good at shedding some light on how the two of them really feel about each other. Harvey in the flashback told her that if you really love someone, you shouldn't put them in a position to break the law. And then he puts her in that position by hiring Mike. It's just a good way for him to come to grips with that decision he made in the pilot.
Jessica was watching out for herself retaining Jeff (D.B. Woodside). Is she going to keep him?
Korsh: She went to him to block the subpoenas because they could end up turning up those agreements they signed about knowing about Mike. But since Mike agrees to destroy his, she doesn't need representation individually at this time. We don't see him destroy it, but it is my presumption that Mike did destroy it and it certainly doesn't come out that he didn't in these episodes. I'm operating under the assumption that he did destroy it.
We've seen a lot of old faces already between Trevor (Tom Lipinski), Scottie (Abigail Spencer), Gerard and Jeff. Are any more returning, possibly to testify?
Korsh: We will see some old faces on the stand. Some people you expect to be on the stand will be on the stand. Some people you expect to be on the stand will not be on the stand. Some people you would not expect to be on the stand will be on the stand.
I'm assuming the wedding is postponed.
Korsh: Obviously if you put yourself in Mike and Rachel's position, it's not a good time to get married. That's their attitude over the course of this trial. We need to deal with the situation in front of us before we deal with that. That doesn't mean it's never discussed or never brought up in the back six.
Regardless of whether they win or lose, how does Mike move forward in his career?
Korsh: In [next week's episode], there's a cool Scottie and Rachel scene that's akin to the Donna/Rachel scene because they each have their men. Ironically, Abigail Spencer and Meghan Markle are the exact same age. They were both born on the exact same day in the exact same year. Scottie says to Rachel that even if Mike gets out of this thing, there's a good chance he'll never practice law again. And she says, "If he's anything like Harvey, he thinks he can do it better than you and that can take a toll down the line." Their lives will never be the same again. Whether the gets out of it or not, there's gonna be a huge chunk of people that feel like he's a fraud and knows he's a fraud. He's gonna have a difficult time operating in the legal world that he's in right now.
What did you think of the reveal? Suits airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on USA.
VIDEO: Sarah Rafferty weighs in whether Donna and Harvey will ever get together