[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about the Season 6 premiere of Suits. Read at your own risk.]
"Maybe he's going to be OK. But his roommate's going to be in trouble."
Harvey (Gabriel Macht) says that about Mike (Patrick J. Adams) on Wednesday's Season 6 premiere of Suits, after Mike sends Rachel (Meghan Markle) a text on his new cellmate Frank's (Paul Schulze) secret cell phone.
Turns out, it'll actually be the other way around, because by the end of the episode, which unfolds over Mike's first night in prison, Frank reveals that he's not Mike's warm, welcoming cellmate at all. He's an inmate alright -- a disgruntled one whom Harvey put away 13 years ago. And now he wants to exact his revenge on Harvey by making Mike's life a living hell at Danbury.
As for Harvey, the defected partners serve him, Jessica (Gina Torres) and Louis (Rick Hoffman) with a $100 million lawsuit for every case Mike ever touched at Pearson Specter Litt. After relieving stress with some "coffee," they get wind that the partners want to bifurcate PSL to get their buy-ins back, which gives Louis the brilliant idea to use those buy-ins to settle the lawsuit.
Now that they're out of that jam, what's the next step in rebuilding PSL? And what went down between Harvey and Frank? Creator and executive producer Aaron Korsh tells us what's ahead.
You already had the plan in March for the premiere to cover Mike's first night in prison and not to skip over his stint. Did you ever waver on that?
Aaron Korsh: I don't think I ever wavered, but I always try to consider everything. I'm always open to everything and I think we should consider everything before we make a decision. My gut had been not to do a time-jump and we're obviously sticking with that. To me, a lot of times I try to imagine what I think the first scene is coming back. Once you wrap your head around that and have a vision, it makes it easier to land on the decision, because it's, what does my gut want to see? We did a lot of talking about a lot of different things and we landed obviously on where we landed. He's going to be in prison for a while.
Is he going to be in prison the whole season?
Korsh: I can say he's not out yet. We're still going. We ultimately have a plan. I can say in real time he's not going to be in there for two actual seasons, two actual years, but we didn't want to undo what we did in short order because it didn't seem real. We've tried to, given how we ended [Season 5] and what we discover in [the first two episodes of Season 6], take it to its natural conclusion or some sort of plausible conclusion. I will say he doesn't get out super-fast.
The Frank reveal obviously connects the two stories. How did you land on him being the link?
Korsh: I wanted Mike to have someone who was an adversary or something like that, to have some conflict while he was in prison. ... One of our newer writers came up with this idea of, what if Mike was in prison with a guy Harvey had put there? The whole season sort of flowed from that idea for me. Not the whole season, but a huge chunk of the season, because to me, the challenge is, if Mike is in prison, how do we keep him connected to our characters? I don't want him to only have scenes separately to our characters. Once he's in there with a guy Harvey put away, Harvey's going to find out about it, he's going to want to do something about it. It leads to many, many things throughout the course of the season. I feel like once that idea was presented, it opened up a floodgate of everything. It somewhat made me think of the idea of [the premiere] and what happens, and we don't reveal it until the end of the episode. I just loved it.
What happened between Frank and Harvey?
Korsh: We find out pretty soon, I think in Episode 2. You find out the backstory, you find out what their history was, what Frank did, what he's capable of. That rolls out over time. [Harvey's] natural reaction is to get Mike out, but he can't get Mike out.
It's like his own delayed sentence. He's paying for whatever happened 13 years ago, whether he was in the right or wrong, but it's being taken out on Mike. What does Harvey do then?
Korsh: Yes, Harvey and Mike always seem to be intertwined through fate. [Harvey] doesn't need Frank out to wish Mike to not be in prison. What he can do is take some action to make life easier for Mike in prison. His initial instinct will be to try to get Frank removed from the prison. That will lead to a lot of consequences and revelations as the season progresses.
Will Mike have allies in prison? Frank warned him not to trust anyone in there.
Korsh: He absolutely will have allies. Mike is a very resourceful, intelligent, good-hearted young man. He's able to form bonds with people and also, with his brain, concoct a strategy to deal with this problem he's got.
Are Mike and Rachel status quo for now? What kind of strain will prison put on their relationship?
Korsh: We're not having a lot of relationship drama with Mike and Rachel as of yet over the course of the season. She's not going to be tempted by another man and obviously he's not going to be dating other women. They are each trying to deal with him being incarcerated in their own way. Mike is mainly trying to deal with it just by trying to survive, just because he's thrown into a pool with a shark. Most of his focus is on surviving with this shark. Rachel is going to find an outlet for her worries about Mike in the form of work.
That's good news for anyone who feared a love triangle after her professor (Malcolm Gets) was cast.
Korsh: It's not a love interest storyline is what I can say. It was more about us focusing on having not really seen Rachel in law school. I wouldn't even call it a Rachel and her professor storyline. I would call it exploring Rachel's life outside of work, given that Mike is in prison.
Harvey, Jessica and Louis got a win, but they still have a long way to go in salvaging the firm. What's their game plan?
Korsh: Now, they've got these huge empty offices, which not only is a huge economic drain, but you can't have people coming into your office and having it look like a ghost town. They won't take you seriously. So they get into a sublet situation and that provides a lot of fun over the course of the season.
They rent out the office to finance guys, right?
Korsh: It's kind of funny. Louis takes it upon himself to fix the situation in one way, which is not in typical Louis fashion. It doesn't have a good outcome. And then he tries to fix it in another way, which in typical Louis fashion, does not have the best outcome. Louis is spearheading that storyline and it provides for a good amount of both comedy and drama.
He's also getting a new love interest. What can you tease about that?
Korsh: He's going to have a love interest, and Donna (Sarah Rafferty) is sort of his wingman. I think it's really fun and lighthearted. ... I didn't regret where we went last year in the back six [episodes] because I thought it needed to be done and I was happy and proud of it. But those back six didn't leave a lot of emotional room for comedy and lighter moments. I think, this year, we wanted to get back to some of that stuff that we love so much, and that we know the fans love so much.
You certainly did that with them getting high.
Korsh: Yes! [Laughs] Look, all of our characters are fun and all of our characters are funny. They all have the great ability to be fun, funny, light, banter-y and everything. But only one of our characters, to me, is tailor-made to laugh at them. And I don't mean laugh at them in a cruel way; Louis is a ridiculous person. As a character and as an actor, he has the ability to make us laugh at him, laugh with him and also feel for him. That's sort of the driving force behind his romantic story, as it provides a lot of humor but also a lot of heart. It's a big year for Louis.
Do you a cliffhanger planned for the midseason finale?
Korsh: We are writing Episode 9. I have a vague idea of what 10 is, even though it shoots in a week and a half. It has not been written yet. And [the writers] have a ton of ideas for the back six that I don't know what they are yet. I mean, I vaguely know. Over the course of three or four weeks, we have to write [Episode] 10, figure out how we're going to end it and then figure out what we're going to do in the back six. And honestly, I have no idea what we're going to do.
Suits airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on USA.