01/17/2013 06:21 pm ET

'Suits' Premiere: Patrick J. Adams Previews Mike's Relationship With Rachel, Keeping His Secret And Growing Up

"Suits" returns Thursday, Jan. 17 (10 p.m. EST on USA) and the second half of Season 2 promises just as many conflicts, challenges and moral dilemmas as we've come to expect from the legal drama -- not to mention plenty of that trademark witty banter from our favorite Pearson Hardman employees.

The winter premiere, titled "Blind-Sided," is especially meaty for associate Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), whom we last saw hooking up with ex-girlfriend Tess (Elisabeth Hower) mere hours after making a play for Rachel (Meghan Markle) in the midseason finale.

We caught up with Adams to preview what's ahead for Mike in the next few episodes, how his relationships with Rachel and Tess will develop, and how a few questionable choices might force him to grow up and face his responsibilities like never before. Light spoilers ahead.

The first episode back for Mike is very personal, what can you reveal about it?
Yeah. There’s a lot going on in that first episode. Obviously he’s still reeling from losing his grandmother towards the end of the first part of the season, and then on top of that, they take on this hit and run case, which obviously hits really close to home for Mike, given how he lost his parents. So you get to see a lot of stuff opening up for him, him having to really reach back into different parts of his past and deal with that. Plus at the same time he’s dealing with a situation where he’s really having to decide if this is something he’s capable of doing, now that he’s really lost the impetus for what forced him into this situation in the first place, which was taking care of his grandmother. So now you’re really seeing Mike in a situation where he’s forced to become himself, become a man and do this for his own reasons and he can no longer hide behind what he’s been hiding behind before.

In the first episode back, he's relying on smoking pot and avoiding his problems, but that seems pretty unsustainable going forward ...
Yeah. We talked a lot about that going into the show, and I loved that they dared to head back into that territory and we get to see what Mike’s comfort zone is while he kind of slacks off, and he’s doing something that he really shouldn’t be doing with his ex-girlfriend and going to this darker place. But you’re right, it’s something that can’t sustain itself and you get to see that mentorship [with Harvey] come into effect ... personally, where it’s not just a work thing; people that care about him at Pearson Hardman step in to help him get his act together. So if he really wants to stick around and be the person that he’s said he’s wanted to be for the last two seasons of the show, he’s going to have to really put these toys away and get back to work. He’s got a lot of great people to help him make that transition. It’s just a matter of whether or not he wants to listen to them.

Does he see Tess as more of an escape, as part of that way of avoiding his problems, more than a viable partner?
I think for Mike it’s always this real struggle between what’s easy and what’s hard, and I think for Mike it’s easy to start smoking pot again, and it’s really easy to sort of fall back into the same old relationship. And especially because he’s kind of lost everybody that he knows, and then there’s this woman around who knows him inside out, or at least knows what he used to be, and that’s a very comfortable place for him to hang out in. So he’s in a situation where he’s just been falling back into old habits, but I don’t think there’s ever really a part of him that thinks this as a good idea or thinks that he’s really pulling his act together. I think Mike has learned a lot over the last two seasons, and I think that he knows that at the end of the day this is not going to be the best way to deal with this situation. But that’s what I love about Mike, is that he’s very human. He’s very real, and just because you know what the right thing to do is, doesn’t mean that you always do it. And I think people really relate to that.

What's his relationship with Rachel like in the second half of the season, since when we come back, it's understandably a little strained?
Well, obviously Mike’s got a lot of work to do just gaining her trust again. Rachel is a fierce, fierce woman, and I think after what happens at the end of the first season she’s just moving on and deciding to get on with her life. So it’s going to take a lot for Mike to win back that trust with her. I think there’s going to be a lot of really good stuff, and in some ways it takes these really tragic moments for people to really get to the bottom of them and move on. So it’s never going to be easy for Mike and Rachel. They’re in a very difficult situation. They work together; Mike’s got a major secret that he’s dealing with that he can’t share with anybody. So it’s never going to be easy for them but the writers do some really beautiful stuff with those characters … and Meghan and I had a blast working together in these last six episodes. So there’s definitely some movement. I guess I would say forward, but you never really know what forward is in this show. And every step you move forward, it means that there’s something else that you’re sacrificing so the tensions will build and they don’t really stop until we get to the last episode.

Mike's secret comes back into play in the first episode -- is that still a major issue in the second half of the year, or is it just simmering quietly in the background?
You know, it’s always going to be something he has to deal with. He can never get away from it. And I think that’s a big part of the problem is that he knows that he’s never going to be too far from that being a problem. I think now we’ve moved into a situation where it’s mostly a problem with Rachel, since he can’t share with the person who he cares about most. And that’s the real struggle for him and obviously a struggle for Rachel, who knows that he’s been hiding something. So there’s going to be a lot of tension building in that respect. And what I love about the show is that it never spends too much time dealing with that. I think even though that’s a huge conflict for Mike, it’s never the driving force of the show. So it’s always going to be something we touch on and have to deal with, but never the sole thing that raises the stakes in the show. But you’re definitely going to see a lot of stuff between him struggling with the fact that Rachel doesn’t know.

"Suits" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST on USA.

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Midseason 2012-2013