After eight seasons, multiple name-partners, and god knows how many near-misses, Suits finally gave fans what they have been begging for since sparks first flew between Gabriel Macht‘s Harvey Specter and Sarah Rafferty‘s Donna Paulsen: A full-on, body-grabbing, finger-entwining hookup. And it was awesome!
After Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce) basically fell on an ethics-hearing sword to save Harvey from being disbarred for breaching client confidentiality — thus ending Zane’s career — Harvey saw the light about his former assistant-turned-COO.
Of course, it took a conversation with another smart woman — firm partner Samantha (Katherine Heigl) — to get Harvey there. Thankfully, her comments about Robert’s loyalty and having that one person always in your corner triggered his realization that he’ll never do better than Donna. Also, he realized he better act fast or she could wind up with Thomas (Sasha Roiz), the good-guy client she actually broke confidentiality to help his case. So Robert took the fall for Harvey, who was going to take the fall for Donna, who was… waiting back at her place.
And good thing she was, because it took Harvey all of 30 seconds to get from the Sam’s office to Donna’s front door, where… well, we’ll let showrunner Aaron Korsh explain it.
Oh my God. Where to begin! The Donna-Harvey thing is just so massive. Was it getting the final season that convinced you to put them together?
Aaron Korsh: That is an excellent question. You know, it probably had something to do with it. But it wasn’t like they gave me the final season and I said, “Okay, we’re doing this thing.” There was no plan to get them together when we went up to Canada to write this [finale], it was not in the playbook. It was not in the plans to get them together. But we already knew we were going to have a Season 9. I remember I got told October 16.
So you’d known for a while.
Yeah. I wanted to plan the season so they told me in October 16 and I think this decision was made probably around November 7, maybe.
The decision to put them together?
Yeah, we were in the middle of writing the Donna-Thomas scene where he asks her what Harvey means to her and what she means to him. And we were having a sort of vigorous and heated debate about what should be the conversation in that scene. It was me and writers Ethan [Drogin] and Genevieve [Sparling]… and we all thought our own thing.
It was very late and basically, I was ready to be done the conversation and pick it up in the morning. [Laughs] I was like, “I’m really tired.” But we just kept on going and going and I was like — it just popped into my head — “What if they get together this episode?” and Ethan got this look on his face like, Whoa. I said, “Let me take you through what I think” and he loved it. Genevieve had gone, so the next morning I pitched it to her and I think the words out of her mouth were “wow.” For the three of us to all think “wow” about anything is a tall order. So we knew that was what we wanted to do.
The timing couldn’t be better.
Exactly. My standard thing is if I’m afraid to end a season on something, it’s a good idea.
So you’ve set it up. Now are you looking at using Season 9 to position everyone so we all feel like they’re all gonna be OK?
I guess it depends on what you define as OK. [Laughs] There will be some bittersweetness throughout the season as there always is on Suits, but I’m not currently planning on anybody of our original and main people dying or or going to prison. Currently, but that could change. [Laughs]
But you’re also not looking at a five-year time jump in the finale and showing like Harvey and Donna with their two red-headed kids.
Nah, I mean that’s not my style. I could change my mind, but it’s not generally my style to do something like that. It’s a good question because I’ve never ended a series before. But I tend to want people to go, “Wait, that’s it? I want more.” I don’t want people to go, “Oh wow they gave me exactly enough. I’ve had enough.” So that’s just how I approach it, but those things could change. We’re not there yet. You’ll have to ask me again on like August 1 or something. But I’m not looking at ending on a tragedy, I will say that. But as always, what any given character may decide to do, things could be both happy and sad.
Like this stunning twist with Zane, which broke my heart! I’m assuming that Wendell Pierce is now no longer a series regular?
Technically, Wendell wasn’t even a series regular last year because he was a series regular on Jack Ryan. So if you look throughout the course of a year, we tried to get him in as many episodes as we could, but there are whole episodes where Wendell is not there. And whenever he’s not there, I miss him. But we were told at some point, I can’t remember when, we were told that next year we would have no access to him from like March to July or something like that. I didn’t know what it was for, but they told us it’s not going to be like with Jack Ryan where maybe they’ll fly him up for a weekend. And if Jack Ryan got picked up, there was a good chance I will have no access to him because you never know where they’re going to shoot that show.
So the decision to write Robert Zane out was a logistical decision. But then we found out that he’s doing Death of a Salesman in London and it’s possible to have some access to him later on in the summer. We haven’t fully broken the final season yet and I hope that we have not seen the last of Robert Zane. I love him as an actor and a character. But it didn’t seem to all work out …
Oh yeah, this is a beautiful way for Robert to step up.
Yes, he sort of does it as a volunteer thing, but remember in Episode 804, Samantha (Katherine Heigl) says to Louis (Rick Hoffman) that “Robert was there for me when the same thing happened to me.” Louis asked how and she said, “That’s not important.” So I had that in my head and when they re-brought up this sort of story of 815 with Louis and Samantha, I said, “This is perfect. This is going to lead to him feeling like he wants to redeem himself on a personal level.” It just kind of worked out.
And it also allowed you to shed more light on Sam.
But don’t think we didn’t notice Zane hinting that maybe someday Sam would see Harvey in a different light.
[Laughs] Yeah. We were trying to mislead fans several times. We, on purpose, try to either to lay breadcrumbs or groundwork for something that’s probably not going to happen. And then sometimes we realize we’ve been doing it and the thing should happen. I know Darvey fans have been like, “Yeah, you’ve been laying breadcrumbs for seven years. What took you so long on that one?!” But with Samantha and Harvey, you know, when they get in the elevator the end of 814, then in 816, very much on purpose, I sort of milked her coming to tell Harvey about Donna. It was planned to have fans start to want to kill me and think I was going to put those two together. [Laughs]
Do you have an idea for next season?
Yes, we have a plan for the season… kind of a blueprint. How we’re going to end specifically, I don’t have yet, I don’t have it formulated yet. But the structure of the season is planned. We have a turn of events happening at the end of [the season premiere] that carries us through and gives us a framework for the entire season. It is the result of the firm having two managing partners in almost as many years, one sort of being drummed out of the bar in disgrace. The legal community is not going to not notice that. So the firm is going to be viewed in a different way than they have been before and Louis is in charge and he’s going to have to handle that. They’re all going to have to handle it and something happens that sort of gives us a framework. That’s the backdrop of what they’re going to be operating under for the season.
At the same time, Harvey and Donna have discovered this new relationship, and Samantha has just lost Robert and she’s lost him for something that he didn’t do — he sort of jumped on the grenade on behalf of Harvey and Donna. So that’s sort of all going to be going on. And of course Alex (Dule Hill) and Katrina (Amanda Schull) are going to be fully in the mix.
How will Harvey and Donna function as a couple?
I think they’re going to function pretty well, but they’re going to have some growing pains. You know, we’re not currently looking to put their relational existence in jeopardy, so to speak. But it doesn’t mean that they won’t have conflict and have to learn. I mean, obviously there’s something amiss that these two people went this long sort of repressing these feelings for each other. That doesn’t just go away when you finally admit your feelings to each other. They obviously have some communication and emotional growth to do, and they’re going to. But I think they’re on a solid foundation, although they’re going to be going through all of this in less-than-optimal circumstances. It might cause a little something within the rest of the firm, but we’re not going to focus on “Are they going to break up?”
Nice. And how did you pick the Cold War Kids song for that final scene?
The director’s cut had a different song and then there was an interim producer’s cut. I have this Cold War Kids CD in my car that was made for me for Suits music and I’ve been trying to get “Love is Mystical” into Suits for a while now. I just said to the editor, “Try this, I think it’s the best song.” He put it in to the scene and we both loved it. And that’s how it happened.
It’s a perfect choice.
The other songs were a little bit more towards the romantic. For me, I guess I’ll say this: At its essence, the feelings that Harvey and Donna have for each other are filled with tremendous power. There is power and passion in their stuff and romance doesn’t have enough power in it, enough depth. I wanted something that was more. And it has different movements in the song, and it allowed us, for lack of a better word, to milk that ending, you know when it kind of changes tone there?
Where they pull away from the wall and actually walk into the room…
Exactly. It’s funny, I said I would discuss it with Genevieve because she had done a first pass on the episode and I told her I had changed the song. Now, I didn’t know she knew Cold War Kids and I said, “When Harvey comes around the bend, the lyrics are ‘Because I’m a red-blooded man,’ and she was like, “Oh, Cold War Kids!” She knew it from that one lyric so we were all on board. I thought it turned out great. Cold War Kids, if they’re not the band we’ve used the most on Suits, they’re close.
I can understand the fear of going there. The fans are vocal.
Oh, no. I am aware that unless we took the camera into that bedroom and set it up and let it record for like four hours, they’re still going to think that wasn’t enough. But I think it’s enough. And you didn’t ask this, but we’re not going to wake up and it was a dream.
You cut it at the right moment to leave us wanting more.
[Laughs] I ran into Sarah twice in the last week. We had a party on Saturday night and she was asking me why I cut it where I did. I said partly because that was the perfect place to end the song, but also, when she pulls him in as she does, Gabriel smiles as though he’s Gabriel. It’s not Harvey, it’s just like he broke character. Plus, I thought it was a little reminiscent of Episode 208 and I wanted to end it a little differently. But we know what’s going on in there, there’s no trickery!