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Suits Postmortem: Why It's Time for Harvey to Move On From Donna

Does his new shrink have his number?

Joyce Eng

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Wednesday's Season 5 premiere of Suits. Read at your own risk.]

Leave it to Donna to be the person who sends Harvey to a shrink.

On Suits' Season 5 premiere, we saw the aftermath of Donna (Sarah Rafferty) leaving Harvey (Gabriel Macht) to be Louis' (Rick Hoffman) secretary. After angrily turning down Donna's offer to put in her final two weeks with him, Harvey, believing that Donna would change her mind, went into a near-professional freefall, despite Mike (Patrick J. Adams) and Rachel (Meghan Markle) helping him on a case. Personally, he's having panic attacks, which is why he's been seeing Dr. Paula Agard (Christina Cole) and he wants more prescriptions.

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In the end, though, Harvey didn't take them. Instead, he flushed them away after asking Donna for her list of secretary replacement candidates. That list was labeled "Secretary Replacements for Louis" and had earlier sent Louis into a neurotic tizzy about Donna leaving him, which she assured him she was not going to do. But Harvey is adamant that Donna will eventually return to him.

"Have you thought about what's gonna happen if she doesn't come back?" Jessica (Gina Torres) asks. "She will," he says.

So, will Donna return to Harvey? What is their relationship like going forward? Executive producer Aaron Korsh answers our burning questions.

How did you come up with the therapist story line for Harvey?
Aaron Korsh:
I did not come up with it, so at first, I couldn't wrap my head around it. What's gonna get that guy in therapy? Once we talked about it, he was having a difficult time with Donna leaving and that's the only thing that made sense. A guy like him is only gonna go to therapy if he feels like he has no other choice. We wanted to create a situation like that and to tell the story of being in therapy is a difficult thing to do. We're not The Sopranos. We're not gonna stay in there for 45 minutes, not that they always did. The idea was to have it as a framing device where he's telling a story and he's in therapy for much of the episode and you go back to six weeks earlier. We play with time and we decided to catch up in time and finish the episode out from there. It was tough to figure out.

The pills were an interesting touch. I thought he was going to become an addict at first. Did he flush away his feelings for Donna with the pills? Will they both rear their heads again?
He's finished with the pills and he's over Donna. That was symbolic. That was our way of showing him moving on from the past. That's a big step for him. As you know, nothing ever comes back if you don't think it's going to. [Laughs] No, obviously, Harvey has some deep-seeded issues we've touched on with his mom, some abandonment issues. We've seen that in the past when Donna has said, "Nobody is leaving." Things like that don't ever really get resolved in a short period of time. There are fits and starts. Two steps forward, one step back. We've taken that approach to this.

How often will we see Dr. Agard?
He will have more visits with her throughout the season. ... We wanted to stylize his reason of being there and stylize his anxiety. And it's got to be major for him, not just "I wanna examine myself," and it can't be over after one [episode].

Will they remain strictly doctor-patient or will anything romantic develop? She in many ways knows him better than Donna.
[Laughs] I'm not gonna answer that question. But I will say ... we looked at a wide variety of actresses and ages for the role. ... Christina Cole's an excellent actress and had actually read for Rachel Zane. She had an American accent and I remember meeting her and she had a British accent. We didn't think she was perfect for that role, but she is for this. It just brings a different dynamic to have someone different and a peer of his in the same age range and give a feeling of something interesting, whether or not anything happens with them. That being said, it's also a question of whether Harvey is ready for a relationship -- with her, Donna or anyone -- and right now he probably isn't.

There's so much subtext in what he and Donna say to each other -- "I'm leaving you" -- and he told Jessica that Donna will come back to him. Does he actually believe that?
I think he is fully accepting of the situation, like he says he is. I'll give you an analogy. I smoked cigarettes. If you're gonna try to quit and you just put the cigarettes in a cabinet, that's different than throwing them away so that you don't have them. But throwing them away doesn't mean you'll never buy another pack or smoke again. The first time I threw a pack away wasn't the last time I smoked a cigarette, but I have not smoked a cigarette in close to 10 years or more. Internally, he's recognizing the situation, but it's not out of sight, out of mind. And in some ways it's time for him to move on from Donna, but that doesn't mean it can't all come back.

Exclusive Suits first look: Donna still has eyes for Harvey

From Donna's end, will she want to come back? What's the work dynamic like between them and Louis?
It's going to be rickety. It's a process of dealing with what happened. Donna wants to work for Louis, but Louis also tends to shoot himself in the foot whenever he gets anything going. It's like they're at a very fragile point at all of their relationships. Any little thing can mess up that fragile point.

Louis almost ruined it with the secretary list fiasco.
Exactly. What I love about Louis as a character is how unbelievably sensitive he is for good and for bad. From a writing standpoint, it's so easy to find something that's gonna touch him off because he's so ridiculous in a great way.

When will Harvey get a new secretary?
Pretty soon. Her name is Gretchen. She's great. I think she's unexpected. I think she's the opposite of Donna. I'm gonna take that back. She's not the opposite of Donna, but he's hiring her in reaction to losing Donna. He doesn't want another Donna; he doesn't want that situation again. We get to know Gretchen over time.

Mike and Rachel kind of took a backseat. What's ahead for them with the wedding?
What we didn't want to do after they got engaged was just talk about getting married all the time and wedding planning, but we also didn't want to completely ignore it. The approach we took was to have it be in existence, do some early touching on it and try to figure out natural consequences of that. One of the things I'm excited for early part of the season is Mike and Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce) have a little arc in the first few episodes. I'm very excited about that. They take a case together. Everybody is interacting with each other, but they're also evolving and moving on and having new relationships.

What did you think of the Suits premiere?
Should Mike and Rachel get married? We debate: