All around the sprawling bullpen of one of Manhattan's ritziest law firms, first-year associates and ambitious clerks hurriedly deliver files, messages and coffee to their bosses. Meanwhile, a conversation in a swank corner office escalates into a moment every high-powered attorney dreams of: an overt threat to torpedo a shady colleague's career, followed by a dramatic exit.
At least it would be dramatic, if the guy leveling the threat could remember his intensely worded diatribe.
"Thank God we have editors on this show," says Suits star Gabriel Macht with a smile as dashing as his navy Tom Ford suit. Stepping out of the way to let the crew reset the scene, Macht drops his steely Harvey Specter stance and begins shooting the breeze with coexecutive producer Anton Cropper, who is also directing the episode. A few feet away, costars Patrick J. Adams (Mike Ross) and Meghan Markle (Rachel Zane) joke about her upcoming trip to Paris with fellow cast member Rick Hoffman (Louis Litt) for a mutual friend's wedding. "I am so getting a hat for this thing," Markle says with a laugh. "I need a fascinator!"
Three seasons in and the castmates still hang out on the Toronto set for playful chatter instead of running back to their dressing rooms? That can be a rarity on many TV shows, particularly hits (Suits is USA's top-rated drama in all demographics, routinely drawing 3 million-plus viewers a week). But this has never been your average legal series. Cases rarely make it to a courtroom, no one delivers The Practice-level impassioned closing arguments, and comedy is as much a part of the show's DNA as are backroom deals. "I think we're able to pull it off because of the cast," says executive producer Aaron Korsh. "They're skilled at so many things and really nailing the right tone."
When we last saw the Pearson Hardman crew, in February's Season 2 finale, there wasn't much to grin about. After ousting sleazy cofounder Daniel Hardman (guest star David Costabile), cutthroat counselor Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres) authorized a merger with a British law firm, infuriating hotshot senior partner Harvey, who was dealt the added insult of his own associate (Adams's Mike) assisting in the deal. Of course, Mike had to do it. Otherwise, Jessica would have revealed that the puppy-eyed genius was a fraud without a real law degree, a fact he was forced to tell his crush, comely paralegal Rachel. And since this is TV, the two promptly had hate sex in the firm's file room. The show is soapy, steamy and sophisticated, and what's in store for Season 3 sounds juicier than the law should allow.
"They all have to deal with the fallout of their actions in our first episode back and beyond," Korsh says. That means, in nonspoiler terms, that Harvey needs to get out of his contract or usurp longtime ally Jessica, Mike has to regain Harvey's trust, and Rachel must make peace with her beau's betrayal. Everyone must also watch their backs, considering the invasion of their conniving U.K. colleagues, including new managing partner Edward Darby (Game of Thrones' Conleth Hill), as well as a bribery case involving an oil company honcho (Hill's Thrones costar Michelle Fairley) that gets messier than a wedding in Westeros.
Will all these interlopers push Harvey and Co. to the back of the boardroom? "We have a lot of interplay with the British characters," Korsh says. "But our core players are very much front and center. There will be at least one huge revelation about one of them in the first half of the season."
Suits premieres Tuesday, July 16 at 10/9c on USA.
For more on Suits, pick up this week's issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, July 11!