As “Suits” is now running its sixth season on Wednesday nights, you’d be forgiven for thinking it has morphed into “Orange Is the New Black.”
There was Mike Ross getting stripped down, felt up, showered and shorn as he enters the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution, its guards poised to scare him straight. Wake-up comes at 6 a.m., cells must be kept sanitary, and no contact is allowed with Rachel, the fiancee he left at the altar last season — or else.
“Do you mind if I ask what disciplinary action means?” Mike wonders aloud.
“I’m sure you’re gonna find out soon,” comes the reply.
“For me, the story of ‘Suits’ is the story of Mike Ross becoming more and more mature and learning what kind of man he wants to be,” said Patrick J. Adams, the Canadian actor who plays him on the USA legal drama.
Ross ended up at Danbury because he faked his Harvard law degree and copped a plea for conspiracy to commit fraud to keep colleagues out of jail.
“I think that if Mike can get out of prison having admitted what he’s done and relieved himself from the burden of the secret he’s been carrying, then he’ll be a changed man and able to really move on with his life with his head held high,” he said.
The show airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on USA Network.
In a recent phone call, Adams talked about Mike’s decisions, lurking danger and ditching those suits. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Q: We know where Mike has been, but where is he headed?
A: At the end of Season 5 we saw Mike make the decision to take the bullet for his friends and, finally, responsibility for what he’s been doing the last five years. Now we get a lay of the land of what prison is like, and plant the seeds for Mike and Harvey working together to get him out of there before those two years are up.
Q: So we should expect a prison break?
A: We’re going to attempt some pretty creative maneuvering. In the world of “Suits,” the law is a very bendable thing filled with backroom deals and owing people favors. And in that spirit, there’s going to be a lot of Mike and Harvey trying to convince the powers that be to let him out early before something severe happens in the hands of his enemies.
Q: Frank is currently enemy No. 1. What fuels his rage?
A: Harvey has a checkered past. He’s done a lot of things to a lot of people and put a lot of people away, and Frank Gallo is one of them. But he’s different than a lot of villains, who’ve done duplicitous things or hurt people in ways that aren’t physical. This is a character who’s very much a physical menace, and that’s new to our show.
Q: How realistic is the prison set?
A: They did a pretty incredible job building it to scale and getting the details rights. In these white-collar prisons, there’s more room to breathe, the doors of the cell are left open, there’s a little bit of moving around in the common spaces. But for Mike that’s an even more threatening situation.
Q: Do you foresee law school for Mike after he’s released?
A: At this point it’s hard for me to imagine who would allow Mike Ross to become a lawyer. ... Last season, Mike came to the realization that he had been wasting his talents helping the super rich become super richer rather than working to actually make people’s lives better. I think if he saw a window for him to be able to do that, he would definitely jump through it.
Q: Does he regret leaving Rachel at the altar?
A: I don’t think so. I think he knows that it was the right thing to do, and I think that’s justified through a lot of Rachel’s storyline this season. Obviously, their motivation to get back to each other is powerful, but she’s doing exactly what he asked her to do, which is to focus on her career.
Q: What’s to become of his old firm, Pearson Specter Litt?
A: It’s hard to see the characters you love in tough times. But getting to see this incredible firm, the best in New York City, reduced to a shell of what it once was, and watching these really brilliant people find a way to keep it afloat and get it back on track — that’s what a show in its sixth season needs.
Q: How much longer can the show go on?
A: So far we haven’t been picked up for a seventh season. But what happens with Mike Ross after he gets out of prison is ultimately a really interesting story to tell. I’m definitely on board.