Summer time for most networks means its time to break out more reality programming, or air other shows they normally wouldn't during the regular season. Summer time for the USA Network means its time to roll out the big guns like cable ratings heavyweights Burn Notice, White Collar, and one of last year's breakout hits Suits. The show returns with Season 2 Thursday, June 14 at 10 PM ET with Episode 2.01: She Knows, which picks right up from last season's wonderful finale.
I had a chance to watch this premiere episode early, and, like most USA Network shows, they waste no time getting right back into the swing of things (Beware, some spoilers will be revealed if you're not caught up with the show). Season 1 ended with Trevor (Tom Lipinski), the Judas-esque "friend" of Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) telling Jessica Peason (Gina Torres) all of Mike's dirty little secrets. This season already starts out in a tense place, when Mike goes to meet Jessica for dinner, and the tension gets ratcheted up even more when Jessica tells Harvey Spector (Gabriel Macht) to fire his protege Mike. That's the first five minutes of this drama-filled premiere, where Mike's love triangle also comes to a head, and we finally learn who the "Hardman" at the Pearson Hardman law firm is, which is bad news for both Harvey and Jessica.
When we first got to the Toronto set, our press corps was introduced to Patrick J. Adams, who played the law genius Mike Ross. He told us how Mike's relationship with his mentor, Gabriel Macht's Harvey Spector, is evolving this season.
"It's a complicated relationship, it's a complex relationship. I get the impression that we're getting to the point where they're both just so embedded into each other. They're involved in each other's lives for better or worse now that it's kind of like one goes down the other goes down, like it or not. That being said, I think they like it. I think that they have found something in each other, like a real mentorship. There's a mutually beneficially sort of symbiosis going on between these two guys. One is seeing something of himself and he's getting the pleasure of teaching and bringing along somebody. I'm playing the other side of it, but I imagine when you're that older guy and you're getting to share your life's experience and at the same time learn from witnessing someone young make mistakes that's great for him and for me it's the sole reason why I can exist in this place and have become the person that I always dreamed that I could be."
He also spoke about how Mike develops more confidence this season, and how he combines his morality with that Harvey Spector killer instinct to find his own unique way to win.
"In the first season I was falling all over myself a lot, dropping files and not figuring it out. I think in this season I'm becoming a little bit more confident in what I can do and what I'm capable of. He sees that and gives me more to do on my own hopefully moving down the road. At the same time I think there's going to be an evolution of his way of winning and my way of winning. I've always thought of Mike as like a moral character in a immoral world. You're sitting in like a corporate law firm and corporate law firms are not always participating in the most moral behavior. He's always struggling with how to remain moral and keep this compass that he has that is strong. It's what makes him who he is and at the same time follow his dreams of becoming a lawyer and being successful and doing well in this firm. I think there's always going to be a really interesting struggle there to keep what is him, but at the same time try and impress Harvey and do well and come up in this world."
One of the things I love about this show is there are a lot of subtle little bits of humor or character development that they love to squeeze in. There are a ton of movie references (the premiere includes a hilarious bit about Goodfellas), but my favorite was the unspoken wagers between Harvey and his (and everyone else's) nemesis: Louis Litt, who is played to perfection by Rick Hoffman. The bets come up a few times during the first season, although it is never known what exactly the stakes are. When we asked Rick Hoffman about it on the set, he wouldn't divulge any specifics, but did say that Harvey and Louis have bigger concerns this season.
"We talked about it, Gabriel and myself. It was big, we knew that. There was never really an amount. We knew it was huge. This year, the dynamic in the office is quite different so far, the first five episodes, especially what's happening with Harvey, Louis, and Mike. I've said before, one key word I would say that's makes things a bit messier this year is leverage. Things are risky for everybody this year and people use leverage against one another in many different ways and it might just be about a wager or it's a little bit more than that I think."
He also revealed the writers are fleshing out Louis' character even more this season.
"I've definitely said it to other people, that it's like you can't get a better role than what they're writing for this guy this year. They've got him on a roller coaster of many different emotions. Tthis particular this season, we found this kind of real human area that wasn't covered last year that is totally covered this year. It's just great writing what they've got going on with this guy. They're really making him a whole human being."
We also spoke with the lovely Meghan Markle, who plays the paralegal Rachel. We learned in the premiere that Rachel is still thinking about that kiss with Mike at the end of Season 1 when this new season starts up. She also told us about her new friendship with Harvey's secretary Donna, and the character's growing desire to become an actual lawyer.
"Rachel is a lot more hardened than she is at this point and I think that vulnerability came out mostly because of Mike Ross I would say. I know in this season we're exploring the other friendships that she has with Sarah Rafferty's Donna. We're meeting a lot more of who she really is and, I would say just trying to find a way that Rachel can become a lawyer, which is my hope for her, at the firm. But also, you know that she's more open to love, to friendship, to being vulnerable in a way that we didn't see as much last season. So it's kind of exciting for me."
We conducted all of these interviews in the Pearson Hardman conference room set, with our cadre of reporters all gathered around, waiting for the next cast member to stroll in. When Gabriel Macht came to greet us, he was dressed to the nines in a snazzy tuxedo, in a way only Harvey Spector could enter a room. Take a look at what he had to say about this fashionable character.
Gabriel Macht - Harvey Spector:
Harvey's moral life, is it constantly something that he's fighting against or trying to make sure he stays on that on moral line?
Gabriel Macht: I truly believe that his moral through line is really strict. I think he has a really honest, straight moral ground. His ways and his means of getting what he needs to win a case, or to protect his client is rogue and it's completely alternative. But I think underneath everything he stands for what's right. And so that's what I think makes him so heroic in so many ways.
As the season goes on, do we get to see like how duplicitous this Hardman guy is and what he really can do?
Gabriel Macht: Yes. I think as an audience member you're going to see this hard man. He's really well-played by David (Costabile). He's had these problems, and he screwed up royally, but he's really coming back trying to make amends. And so, as an audience member you're supposed to trust him, and believe that he's just trying to be okay. But, you know, I just don't trust him. So, in Episode 2, you learn why Harvey doesn't really like him or trust him.
How do you play the relationship of you want to still win, and then in the premier it really went bad for him, how much of that is keeping him on the team versus a brother or a friend?
Gabriel Macht: I think it's all of it. Ww've just had 12 episodes, right? Now we're into Season 2, so there's a lot of the similar things going on. There is the mentor thing, there is the big brother thing. Harvey sees so much of himself in Mike, when he was younger. I think in this season, you're going to see a little bit more of how Harvey used to stand up for people behind their backs, and now he's doing a little bit more in front of them. He's saying, 'You're not gonna get called out on my watch,' or 'You're not gonna get fired.' He is going to stand up for him more so. But, also. if one thing upsets Harvey, or rubs him the wrong way, like you know, Mike is in my office and he sort of makes fun of one of my records, I'm going to give him to Louis like that.
They teased that something coming up for Harvey that might be emotionally hard for the whole entire firm, is that like a scandal or a personal crisis?
Gabriel Macht: Well, let's put it this way, Travis Tanner (Eric Close) from the first-the first season, he comes back. He sues the firm, and he tries to sue like a General Motors-type car company. There's some information that may have been buried again, and so this question that Harvey's been involved not once but twice in burying some, evidence comes into question. The truth is he didn't bury it. It was looked over, and it does set this huge sort of house of cards to crumble, which is great for the dramatic purposes of the show. I guess that's as much as I can give you.
Are we going to get more of Harvey's love life?
Gabriel Macht: Gosh, I wish, I really wish. It was a great episode last year with the Scottie character and you know she went off to go marry her whoever it was. I think it touched Harvey that she was actually moving on. He is a workaholic, but he likes his fun, but I feel like in order to grow and to become a full person... I don't know... I can't go there. I would love to see him fall in love. I would love to see if he did fall in love, if he moves forward and she takes him, and she falls in love with him, or if she's the one who got away, and how does that manifest? There was talk that Harvey was working in the office as an associate, there was another woman who's an associate and they had something. I think she's coming to play at some point, but I don't know who it is, or what she's here to do.
What are you shooting today?
Gabriel Macht: This is how I wake up. We're shooting a scene where a client of mine owns an energy company, and he has been told not to drink, and not to gamble. I've been told that he's in Atlantic City, or he's going Atlantic City to be a keynote speaker at a conference. And there's something that tells me that he's in Atlantic City, how is not going to have a drink, and how is he not gonna play poker? I just show up at Mike's apartment, and I say, 'Get your tux on, we're going to Atlantic City. We have to chaperone this guy.' And it turns out, he is drunk, and he's playing poker. He asked somebody to back him on a little napkin, and he loses his entire $30 million company on a napkin deal. So, I've got to figure out to fix that.
Aside from the witty exchanges between Harvey and Mike, a lot of the comedy in the show comes from Sarah Rafferty as Harvey's longtime secretary, Donna. We were told that all of the supporting players were getting bigger roles this season, which is incredibly impressive since this is quite a large cast filled with characters who are integral to the whole dynamic of Pearson Hardman. When asked how Donna's role might be expanded this season, she gave us quite an interesting answer.
"I was surprised to find out that Donna, who I like to say is always right and I enjoy that aspect of her, she's not always right. We were at a cast dinner with the writers in L.A. before we left and the producers and I made some joke. They were talking about Donna and I was like, 'Well, Donna's always right.' All the writers looked at each other and were like, 'Except when she's wrong.' I think I turned red and was blushing and was like, 'What, what, huh? How dare you? There's no way that she can be wrong!' And they were like 'You don't know how wrong she's going to be.' It's good, it's good wrong. It's right wrong."
The actress also talked about the rapid-fire pace of the dialogue, and finding the right rhythm for the performance.
"You can absolutely tell when something is written in a particular rhythm. This is going to be super geeky, but Aaron Korsh, our creator, and I were having a conversation when he was up here about a scene that he had written. I said, 'Aaron, this is like Shakespeare.' He just sort of looked at me, you know, 'What are you talking about?' I said Shakespeare tells you exactly the pace that you're supposed to say your lines in a scene. If my line has four beats and the next line has six beats then we've got a whole line, we've got to share, we've got to cut each other off. He writes like that. There are scenes that he writes that are, that are like that. And then there are scenes when you know to take more time. I think that's what's so great about the writing on our show. It's just all in there. All the writers have such a strong ear for the voices of the different characters. It was so obvious in the pilot, whether the role was large or small, it still had a really specific voice that you could hear when you were reading it. It was like she has five lines and I know exactly who that person is."
Gina Torres plays the senior partner Jessica Pearson, and, like most of the characters on this show, we rarely see her outside of an office or work setting.
"On one of the red carpets this season, I joked that Jessica was finally going to get some. Hey she's tense. Just call it what it is, but yeah I don't know. It would be nice. I kind of tease (series creator) Aaron every now and then, 'So are we building her house this season? Is there a standing set?' It's got to be worth it. You know it's got to be somebody good. I don't think anybody would buy it if somebody just kind of showed up."
That about wraps up my day from the Toronto set of Suits, returning for Season 2 Thursday, June 14 at 10 PM ET with Episode 2.01: She Knows. While you really can't go wrong with any of USA Network's shows, this series is easily my favorite, with a phenomenal ensemble cast of colorful characters and a sublime mixture of high-stakes drama, fast-paced dialogue, and side-splitting laughs.