Wednesday night’s “Suits” season finale sets the stage for the upcoming spinoff pilot starring former series regular Gina Torres (Jessica Pearson) — airing next year as the “Suits” winter finale.
Jessica has appeared intermittently on “Suits” since Torres left the series midway through Season 6. Now based in Chicago, Jessica reappeared in Harvey’s (Gabriel Macht) swank Manhattan apartment late in Wednesday’s episode — convincing him to remove her name from the firm’s wall after learning she’ll be disbarred. (“I’m good with this,” she said.)
“As the back six [episodes of ‘Suits] roll out in the winter, we’ll go deeper into the ramifications and fallout of Jessica being disbarred,” says Torres, setting the stage for the spinoff. “What we know is that [the spinoff] is set in Chicago … and will push Jessica into the political arena. What I want to stress, though, is that ‘Suits’ is the springboard for the new series, which is its own animal. It’s not ‘Suits 2,’ and that’s incredibly exciting for me as well.”
Torres says she had no idea she would be doing a “Suits” spinoff when she left the series last year. “It was for personal reasons and had nothing to do with the show or my happiness with the show,” she says. “At that point, leaving was all about coming home [to LA] and taking care of my dad and getting my ‘real’ life in order — which was difficult to do when I was 3,000 miles away [shooting ‘Suits’ in Toronto].
“It never occurred to me at that point [about doing a spinoff],” says Torres, 48. “I just thought I would be another version of [past ‘Suits’ characters] Scottie [Abigail Spencer] or Daniel Hardman [David Costabile] and would pop up when they needed me. But then the  election happened and the campaigning and there was so much going on,” she says. “For the first time in my life I kind of became a news junkie … and became incredibly fascinated with the quagmire world of politics. [The spinoff] was my idea. I brought it to the network and helped flesh it out and the network [and ‘Suits’ creator] Aaron Korsh loved it.”
Torres will be an executive producer on the new series (as yet untitled), with Korsh writing the pilot. She says Jessica will find herself surrounded by an interesting cast of characters in the Windy City.
“It involves Chicago and Chicago politics, the dark side of that and also the potential lighter side … so there will be a mayor, district attorneys, city planners — those kinds of people,” she says. “Obviously, Jessica is a force of nature and forces of nature need other forces of nature or it gets boring. Not only will she test, but she’ll be tested — and we’ll see how.”
And Torres says she isn’t shutting the door on bringing some “Suits” characters into Jessica’s new orbit.
“It’s so great to play with the idea of a crossover [episode], and certainly there are other characters in ‘Suits’ who have very specific skill sets,” she says. “It’s wide-open. I won’t say no and won’t say never, but it has to be right — and it has to make sense.”