[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Thursday's Season 3 finale of Suits. Read at your own risk.]
Mike took the out — again — but this time he means it.
On Suits' Season 3 finale Thursday, Mike (Patrick J. Adams), for the second straight episode, accepted Jonathan Sidwell's investment banker job offer, but he won't be backtracking again. And who can blame him for getting out of the fraudulent lawyer game after what he goes through?
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After telling a disapproving Rachel (Meghan Markle) that he decided to stay at Pearson Specter, Mike gets arrested by U.S. Attorney Eric Woodall (Zeljko Ivanek), who's investigating Mike and Harold Gunderson (Max Topplin) for paying off witnesses in the Ava Hessington case settlement. Woodall is really after "the dealer, the supplier" Harvey (Gabriel Macht), who is forced to face the fact that he may have come to the end of the line with Mike since, as Jessica (Gina Torres) points out, they're turning into Darby in all the extremes they go to in order to cover for him.
Harvey gives Mike permission to point the finger at him should Harold crack, but Mike refuses. Fortunately, it doesn't come to that, as Louis (Rick Hoffman) convinces Harold not to settle, and they walk away scot-free (for now). Feeling guilty for putting Harvey et al. in that position, Mike tells him he's going to Sidwell after all. "You gave me permission to point the finger at you," he says. "Give me permission to go." But fear not — it won't be the last we see of Mike because Sidwell is a client at Pearson Specter. "Which means technically, you work for me now," Mike says.
Mike isn't the only person Harvey's losing though. After Scottie (Abigail Spencer) asks Jessica to get out of her non-compete, effectively breaking up with Harvey, he decides to tell her the truth about Mike — and that he loves her.
So what's next for Harvey and Mike? Will Mike stay at Sidwell? Executive producer Aaron Korsh answers our burning questions. Plus: Find out what you didn't see in the finale.
It seemed like this whole season was building up to Louis finding out Mike's secret, but you went a completely different way instead. Why did you decide to do this?
I don't specifically remember when we decided, but we all figured halfway through the year when Mike hit this glass ceiling, if we're gonna introduce it, we need to have it impact us in some way. We got the idea of him being offered the job and I didn't want him to be offered the job unless he was going to take the job. But we weren't sure if he would want to take the job, so I asked the writers to come up with story ideas in case he took the job. They came up with a bunch of good ideas that it gave me confidence that we could make it work. We decided we would have him turn down the job in [Episode] 15 to have everybody think, "Oh, we knew he would turn down the job. There's no Suits without Mike and Harvey." So now we show, "Well, he is going to take the job."
So you were enjoying all the reactions last week?
Oh, yeah! Last week after 15 aired, I read a lot of reviews saying, "I knew he wouldn't take it!" I had to keep my mouth shut! We hope people didn't see it happening this way. People have asked me if [the finale] was a cliff-hanger. To me, it's not really. A cliff-hanger would be, "What is he going to do?" But he did it. So the cliff-hanger, if you want to call it that, is, "What is next season going to be about?" And yes, he's going to be [at Sidwell] for the foreseeable future.
Had you planned for the Hessington case to come back this way?
No. At the end of the year, we're always under the gun and we're just trying to string together six good episodes. The writers came up with this great idea very late in the year, and I loved it. It was a great way to bring it back and for it to make sense going forward too.
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What was the other ending that you shot but didn't use?
What we were going to do in the last episode was have this happen at the same time James Quelling (Damon Gupton) come back with a gun. That was the alternate ending. First we were going to do that, then we came up with [Mike taking the job], and then we were going to try to do both where Quelling shows up with a gun. We were going to take care of Quelling in the episode, but we just didn't have the emotional space for it. By the time we get out of this U.S. Attorney thing, it's like, "I can't deal with a guy with a gun." We considered ending the season with him just coming in with a gun and not shooting, but if we did that, it would've forced us next season to come right back to that. But we don't want to come right back to that. We want to jump in time a little bit of a few months and see the life of these people after Mike has gone.
Is the Quelling thing off the table for good?
Probably off the table for good. I like him as a character and I want to see him again, but not that way.
Do you think Harvey suspected Mike would end up taking the job or did he think things could go back to status quo again? He knows it can't go on forever.
I think it's interesting. I don't think he saw it coming. The second Mike said it, he says, "We just got out." But he understands it's been leading to this. These back six [episodes] were an examination on whether they made the right decision letting Mike into the firm. Mike is coming to the conclusion that maybe it was the right thing, but it's time for it to end.
Harvey acknowledged to Jessica that they're turning into Darby.
Korsh: Yeah, he was in denial for a while, but he eventually realized it. All of those things — they might not have happened because he hired Mike, but they happened after he hired Mike. That's what Mike said to him later in the bullpen. We were originally going to have that last scene between them on the roof. It was going to be very cold, and the actors didn't want to do it. Then we thought Harvey's apartment, but why would Mike show up there? Then we went, wait a minute. The bullpen! That's been Mike's home in this firm. It was a much better place to have that conversation.
We've always known Harvey to be cocky and arrogant, but he told Scottie he loved and he let her go, which was a nice moment. He told Mike to pin everything on him and then realized he had to let him go. Did you set out to show these layers to him?
Right. I don't know if we set out to do it. What we try to do is be authentic to who we think the characters are in the moment. I think he has grown and that situation highlighted it. His letting Mike go is growth. Also being in the situation they were in, it seems a little crazy for him not to let Mike go. The Scottie thing, he's trusting her and letting her go at the same time. He trusts Louis in the car, but he's also Harvey-like in ordering Louis what to do. I feel like it's a good combination of the old Harvey and the new.
Is Scottie going to tell?
I don't know yet because we haven't gotten that far into Season 4. He knows he's opening them up for exposure, but it wasn't our intention for that to backfire on him, not that that didn't occur to him. I do believe she's trustworthy with that information.
I love that Scottie knows and Louis still doesn't.
Yup! [Laughs] Poor Louis! We don't have him [investigating Mike] again for now. And Mike won't be at the firm, so it's not going to be as prevalent next season.
Rachel accused Mike of prioritizing Harvey over her when he changed his mind to stay. Was that a factor in him taking the job — proving to her that's not the case? It's clear he realized the longer this goes on, the worse it'll be for everyone if the truth comes out.
Well, first, I don't think it was about choosing Harvey over Rachel when he wanted to stay. Sometimes when you're in a relationship, your partner could frame things that way. But taking the job again, I think it was more, "I can have a life. The danger will always impact my life with Rachel here." It was more looking at the totality of what his life would be like if he took this way out and the impact on his loved ones. And next season Rachel will be at law school, so they're both entering new worlds professionally.
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This is obviously a game-changer. You're almost resetting the show in a way. The stakes used to be, "Who's going to find out his secret?" What are the stakes now?
It's interesting because I wasn't framing it in terms of the stakes, but in terms of the dynamics. But yes, the stakes have changed. Mike is now a client of the firm. Mike is still very much in our world and he still obviously has a relationship with Rachel. But his dynamic with Harvey has changed a little bit. He doesn't work for Harvey anymore and as we joked, technically, Harvey works for him. It changes the dynamics across the board. Mike and Harvey no longer have the same working relationship. I have an older brother. He went off to college and he came back for one summer, and I wanted to prove to him that I had grown up and I was his equal. Even though Mike is no longer under Harvey's thumb in a professional way, that older brother dynamic is still going to be there because those were the formative years of their relationship. Mike is trying to bust out of that. Harvey doesn't view it as working for Mike.
You have D.B. Woodside and Brendan Hines coming on. Is this a season-long arc they're part of?
Early on, [Harvey and Mike] are going to have conflict over something they're working on that's going to color a large part of the early part of Season 4. We haven't gotten to the end of [planning the season] yet, so I don't know how long it's going to last, but it's a fairly long arc. D.B. Woodside is one thing that is going on and Brendan Hines is another, and at some point they may dovetail together and we'll move past it.
Have you decided how you're going to end the season?
If we were another month away, I'd probably have a better answer for you. But the major conflict that occurs between Mike and Harvey is going to build to a big resolution. They'll resolve their differences and get out of the jam that they found themselves in.
What did you think of the Suits finale?