Suits Finale: Why Mike Made the Ultimate Sacrifice—and How It Will Change Season 6

Nivea Serrao
Suits - Season 5 Spoiler Alert

Spoiler alert! If you haven't watched the Suits season finale, hurry to another story before Anita Gibbs sets her sights on you. 

It didn't take long for the Suits season finale to pick up from last week's episode, as Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) made a deal too soon with prosecutor Anita Gibbs (Leslie Hope): pretend to have passed the bar in exchange for spending the next two years behind bars. Unfortunately, as his boss (and friend) Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) eventually learned, the jury would have voted in Mike's favor, finding him not guilty. At first, Harvey didn't tell Mike, but after a fist fight to "toughen" Mike up for prison, he admitted the truth.

Mike immediately went home and tell his fiancée Rachel (Meghan Markle) since they had moved their wedding up and he didn't want to tie the knot while keeping another secret from her. But Rachel—who'd stood up to her father's objections and disinvited him from her big day—told Mike that he was "already free" in her mind. But when it was time to walk down the aisle, Mike caught sight of her reluctant parents and decided he couldn't "ruin" Rachel's life by marrying her before he went to prison. So he explained his change of mind before exiting the church and joining Harvey, who had suspected that would happen, and they drove to prison. Once there, the former boss and protegé both apologized for, and owned up to, the crime they'd committed back in the pilot.

Elsewhere in the episode, Jessica, Donna and Louis (Gina Torres, Sarah Rafferty and Rick Hoffman, respectively) returned to the office to find it had been cleared out, making them—and Harvey—the only people still working at the firm.

With so much going down in the season's final hour, we caught up with executive producer Aaron Korsh to discuss some of the night's biggest moments.

When you started the six-episode arc after revealing Mike's secret, did you now that it would end with him going to prison?
Yes. I'm pretty sure. I was assessing it with one of the writers yesterday, because I don't always remember when we landed on different things. I'm pretty sure this was one of those rare instances that, pretty much at the beginning of the year, we did know we wanted to have Mike arrested in Episode 10. We knew we wanted him to go to prison, [but] we didn't know when. At first I wasn't sure if we were going to have a big six-episode trial, but once we landed on that, we did know that at the end he was not going to get out of it.

Harvey and Mike have always been able to get out of tough situations. What made you decide Mike would choose to go to prison?
It was a complicated process of thinking, but in my mind, once he got caught I thought, "They're not going to be able to get out of this. He didn't actually go to Harvard." We also collectively thought it would surprise people. We didn't think people would [believe] that we would have the courage to have Mike go to prison. We decided that we'd surprise people and say, "Look, you might think you know what's coming in Suits, but you don't." That was kind of how the conclusion—have him go to prison—played out. [As for] the conclusion to have him cut a deal, the writers came up with various forms of that. I just really liked it. It was a way to redeem Mike.

In the course of this trial, I've gotten a lot of feedback, people thinking that Mike is selfish. In my opinion, he was just trying to get them out of it, much as Harvey was trying to get them out of the situation, because he was unable to just say, "Hey, I did this, put me in jail." If Mike had done that, they would have used that to go after Harvey and Jessica. So he wasn't being selfish; he just had a difference of opinion with Harvey on how to get out of the situation they were in. He sees an opportunity to convince Gibbs [by saying], "I'll take your deal if you won't go after any of my friends." When he beats her in the argument with the judge in Episode 15, he says, "Good, if I can beat her in that argument, maybe there's enough doubt in her mind that I could get everybody out of this," and that's why he decided to do it. He always knew he was going to go to prison, and to have him volunteer to go makes him at least a little heroic, and then you have the added tragedy in there, that you find out the jury was going to find him innocent.

Watching these episodes, it was hard for me to know they committed the crime and still want them to get away with it. Was that something you had to balance or calibrate episode to episode?
Look, I never keep in mind that [Mike] really did this, but that's the interesting thing about drama or dramatic television, and also about life. You could have a best friend that makes a mistake and commits a crime, and they're your best friend, [so] you're still going to root for them to get found innocent, particularly if they feel sorry about it. I don't think that's a terrible thing. On the other hand, [Mike] really did do this wrong thing, and Anita Gibbs is doing her job and going after criminals. That's her job, and you can't just have people being frauds running around, because it's not good for society. The things you're talking about are a little bit from the viewer's standpoint, and each viewer has to make their decision, like do you want to root for these guys to get out of it or not? From a writing standpoint, since we're telling the story from our character's point of view, our characters are going to be more concerned with getting out of this thing than necessarily owning up to whether it was right or wrong. When it comes down to it and they have the choice to take the punishment upon themselves, or sell their friends out, most of our characters in the end wanted to do what you would probably call 'the heroic thing' and take the punishment for themselves. It turns out Mike beat them to it. To some degree, they're all redeemed in the end.

When you started this arc, did you already have a good idea of how many characters Mike's secret had touched? The last few episodes have been Suits’ greatest hits.
What happened with all these people, say for example Trevor, obviously they find him. Scottie, they find her. Jeff Malone, Jessica's love interest from Season 4, they broke up because he knew there was this massive secret but he never knew what it was. Obviously it comes out, and he knows now what the secret was. Obviously Sheila was involved because she was the one that tipped them off, so it was an opportunity to revisit a lot of old characters, as it would happen in real life. Also, just to revisit some of the old relationship dynamics and give them a chance to at least put some things to bed.

Harvey had a really hard time accepting the fact that Mike took the deal. What makes him finally come around and support Mike's decision?
In the end a huge part of it is, he knows he can't stop Mike from making that decision. Mike is just not going to relent. Therefore, what are you to do when someone you care about is doing something like that? For you to not accept it would just feel cruel. It's like he's going through the five phases of acceptance: bargaining, denial, anger, depression and acceptance. He goes through those stages as one would, because he cares about Mike. Ultimately, once he realizes there's nothing he can do to stop Mike or change his outcome, he's got to accept it. Otherwise he would be a bad friend.

Is there a plan to do a two-year jump between the seasons, or will we see a more immediate reaction, how everyone's coping with the fact that Mike is in prison?
We are going to see an immediate reaction. A lot of times we'll have a big cliffhanger, but I don't really consider this a cliffhanger; it's just a big event happening. We'll reconvene and wonder, shall we do a time jump or not? We have to talk really twice a year, since we have two seasons. Almost every single time we end on, "Let's just pick up where we left off," because it will feel like we had this massive event [and] we want to know what's going to happen. If we just jump forward, we'd feel like we're skipping out on a good story and on what happened. We've got a good dramatic situation there, [with] good fodder for stuff to happen. Let's take advantage of it and come back where we left off.

Is this the last we've seen of Gibbs, or is she gone now?
That's a good question. We're still in the early stages of Season 6, and we do have a little bit of Anita Gibbs filled, but I don't think she's going to be the primary focus of Season 6. That could change. We are still early in the process.

Now that Mike is not pretending to be a lawyer anymore, what does that mean for the show?
That's a great question. That was very much wrapped up in, are we going to have him get arrested and have him go to prison this year? It was a risky proposition because, on the one hand, it obviously made for a great Episode 10 finale to have him get arrested, out of nowhere. And it obviously made for a good Episode 16 finale to have him go to prison. But [when] you've backed yourself into a corner and you've got to write yourself out in some way, it's both a big challenge and an opportunity, because if you can pull it off, you can reshape the show and possibly breathe new life into it. Because at some point, people don't want to hear about Mike's secret anymore. Now that his secret is gone, it just allows us to do different things, one of which is Mike dealing with life in prison. That's an interesting story line for Season 6. Members of the firm came back and everybody was gone. How are they going to react to that? Are they going to stick together, are they going to split apart?

After Season 6, I'm not sure because we'll worry about that when we get to the end. [But] for right now, we have to cover a lot of things to do. [Also] having Mike be arrested and having all this behind us is going to do with letting us get back to some more humorous story-telling, because the worst of what could happen to many of us, maybe not to Mike but to other people, is behind us. There's going to be some room to get some more fun and funny stories back. The other thing the ending did for us was, obviously, Mike and Rachel were going to get married and then didn't get married. That was a decision that allowed for other things. Moving forward, he's in prison. What's that going to do to their relationship and how are they going to either survive or not survive? That's one thing, and the other thing is, every one of these characters has been through the wringer by the end of Season 5. There's a lot of opportunity to see where they're going to go in Season 6.

Suits has been renewed for Season 6.