Are you breathing yet, Suits fans? Just when we thought tonight’s midseason finale would prove uneventful, that final minute came along to give us what we’ve been waiting six years for. Donna, disturbed by Louis’s admission of regret over letting the love of his life get away, realizes she might be doing the same thing. When Harvey strolls in, she spontaneously kisses him, an acoustic guitar version of Dean Lewis’s “Waves” swelling along with the heart of every #Darvey fan. “I’m sorry, Harvey,” she murmurs, “I just had to know.” And then she’s gone, leaving him stunned.
The kiss came as even more of a surprise after a Donna-centric episode which seemed stacked with discouraging signs for the pair. First, there was that devastating scene in which Harvey’s rival Andrew Malik unexpectedly put Donna on the stand, turning an aggressive spotlight on her history at Pearson Specter Litt and specifically her history with Harvey. By essentially implying that she slept her way into her current position as COO, Malik left Donna genuinely rattled. Though she—and we—know this is BS, it’s clear that a lot of people in that courtroom are buying Malik’s version of events. This scene seemed to give Donna less reason than ever to consider a relationship with Harvey.
Sure enough, later in the episode, when Mike pushed Donna to declare her true feelings, she calmly told him “Two people have to want to be together to be happy. Harvey and I don’t want to be together.” She sounded sure… until she wasn’t. So what exactly is going on for Donna? BAZAAR.com caught up with Rafferty a few hours before the finale aired to talk about the long will-they-won’t-they dance of Darvey, her “visceral” reaction to Donna being destroyed on the stand, and why she was initially resistant to tonight’s kiss.
She knew in advance the kiss was coming—and wasn’t initially on board.
“Midway through shooting the season, I was told it was going to happen, and I had some resistance to it, because I thought it was so important that there would be a build. And when I did read the finale script I was really relieved, because there was a very appropriate emotional build to it. Not to say that we hadn’t been building towards something like this for six and a half seasons! I was also thrown by the idea that Donna was the one doing the kissing. I didn’t see it that way! I imagine Donna as the kind of person who reels them in, instead of throwing herself out there.”
Donna wasn’t lying to Mike when she said “Harvey and I don’t want to be together”—but she might be lying to herself.
“I think as humans, we always tell ourselves one thing, and maybe our subconscious is working in different ways than our conscious life. I think Donna was 100 percent telling the truth when she was talking to Mike. She believes what she’s saying. But then there was this confluence of events: she had just been torn down by Malik on the stand, and Harvey stepped in and was a bit of a knight in shining armor, which he has been in her life many times. Then Mike said what he said, and then Louis walks in having this terrible emotional crisis because he thinks he’s lost the love of his life. At that point, I felt that Donna was like, ‘Okay, why am I getting all these signs at once? Could there be any more signs that I need to do something about this?’”
She knows that Darvey fans have been through a lot at this point.
“The dance has been a bit of a rollercoaster, but I think that’s very human. One minute you could be feeling one thing, and the other minute you’re not. One minute Donna could be thinking ‘Is this my soulmate?’ and in another minute she’s thinking ‘This guy is my emotional dwarf, what a nightmare!’ I don’t know what the writers’ long game vision is. I get very careful when I’m talking about the Darvey piece of Suits, because our fans are so passionate, and have been along for the ride with us for so long, and we’re so grateful for them.
Donna’s ambiguous “I’m sorry, I just had to know” calls back to Harvey’s ambiguous “You know I love you, Donna” at the end of Season 4.
“That ambiguity of words is so intentional. It allows different viewers to see it through their own lens, and that’s been very interesting. Back when Gabriel and I found out that Donna and him had slept together once before, because there was that flashback, we were like ‘Wait, what? I wasn’t playing that! Were you playing that?’ We both checked in with each other and we hadn’t been, but if you look back at all their moments before through that lens, it still works. You can definitely buy that these two people had slept together. So the writers are definitely doing that dance.
“When Harvey says “You know I love you Donna,’ there’s the audience’s interpretation, and then there’s Donna and Harvey’s interpretation of it. Donna has incredible emotional intelligence, and she’s really his emotional navigator. He may not have the skills to interpret his own emotions, but she does. I think she sees the writing on the wall. Harvey gets incredibly protective of her—we’ve seen it in past seasons too when he’s fighting for her, saying ‘I will go to my knees if you go to jail’—he’s professed his love for her, he went into panic attacks when she left him… all those things. She can interpret all those emotional signals in his life. So when [the kiss] comes in this episode, Donna has a lot of information that makes her do what she does.”
A lot was cut from the final version of the kiss—but we’ll see the fallout in the back half of Season 7.
“We spent hours on this scene, and shot it many, many ways, and I think what has ended up in the final cut is perhaps the most ambiguous cut. It leaves it really wide open to interpretation. My interpretation of it is that Donna was checking something for herself, but what you didn’t see was all the shots of her reacting to what she received back from Harvey. That didn’t make it to the cut. Those were removed, so we don’t know! We also shot a version where I say half the line before I kiss him, like, ‘I’m sorry Harvey,” then kissing him, then ‘I just had to know.’ That may have been too revealing.”
That scene in which Malik tears Donna down on the stand—and the sexist argument he makes—was just as upsetting for Rafferty as it was for you.
“Ugh, God, I’m actually having a bit of a visceral response to that right now, as I did when we were shooting it. Usman Ally is such a brilliant actor; as much as we hate his character I hope we get a lot of him, because it’s such a pleasure to watch him work, and he makes the work easy because you just feel disgusting. That scene was really intense. Because Donna had a different dream, right, she wanted to be an actress. She gave it up because she had some self-doubt about it, and she chose a path with more financial security. So she has a different degree from everybody else that she’s working with. She didn’t go to Harvard Law. To have worked so hard for so many years, and to finally know she has earned the right to ask for this promotion [to COO] that she’s received, to know that she is that valuable, to recognize that her skillset is indispensable—being able to cultivate that confidence is really commendable.
“To have somebody cast aspersions in a way that could take it all away from her is so upsetting. It’s so vile, and he did it in a matter of seconds. It’s on record now, he exposed it, it’s done. It’s out there. I imagine women can relate to this, and this is why Donna always had that rule: I don’t sleep with people I work with. She and Harvey weren’t working together, and they hooked up, and then he says he wants her to work with him and she’s like, ‘Are you kidding me? This is a disaster!’ So she lays down the law: we never speak of this again. No one needs to know about it, this didn’t happen. This isn’t what this is about. And now it’s come back to haunt her. It’s one of her biggest fears.”