‘How to Get Away With Murder’ Will Reveal the Fallout From the Big Shooting and More Juicy Flashbacks
It’s late afternoon on the Hollywood set of How to Get Away With Murder, and Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) isn’t quite herself. For one thing, she’s talking to her dead husband.
For another, the mercurial attorney is clad in a voluminous silk top and cardigan rather than a trademark power suit, and she’s sporting long braids, which have been gathered into a loose knot. “Hungry?” asks Sam Keating (Tom Verica), who looks to be very much alive as he tenderly greets his wife in their kitchen, where he’s prepared her a hearty breakfast.
But Annalise—showing no trace of the desperate woman who, in November’s feverish midseason finale, begged her law-school students to shoot her as part of an elaborate plan to cover up a murder—has more pressing matters than food on her mind, including an upcoming trip to Ohio for a case. “It’s just a simple [flashback] scene that shows Sam and Annalise were happy once,” Davis explains between takes.
As if anything’s ever simple when it comes to Murder. The ABC thriller, which was created by Pete Nowalk and is executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, is a full-throttle thrill ride with secrets, lies and an ever-growing number of whodunits around every twist-filled corner. Even star Davis, who recently became the first African-American to win a lead-actress Emmy, admits she has trouble keeping her drama’s dense plotlines straight: “It keeps getting more cray cray!”
It’s also getting psychologically richer. The aforementioned flashback scene between Sam and Annalise, which takes place 10 years ago and revolves around a huge development that shaped Annalise’s past, will become a major focus for the show when it returns February 11. “It’s going to be emotional,” Nowalk promises. “These last six episodes are extremely character-driven. But obviously we’re still going to have our twists and turns, because we have a huge mystery to unravel.”
Namely, what on earth is the dysfunctional deal with Annalise and Wes (Alfred Enoch)? The Middleton University professor and her favorite pupil have a complicated relationship, to put it mildly: Since enrolling in Criminal Law 101, Wes has bludgeoned Annalise’s husband; she’s lied to him about his girlfriend Rebecca’s (Katie Findlay) fate; and he shot to kill Annalise after she confessed that Rebecca was really dead. But the connection between Annalise and Wes goes back much further, as fans discovered in the finale’s closing shocker, which showed Annalise and sometime-girlfriend Eve (Famke Janssen) looking on through interrogation-room glass as a 12-year-old Wes, then called Christophe, was questioned by police about his mother’s apparent suicide. “Good God, Annalise,” Eve asked, “what did we do?”
Fans have tossed around plenty of their own theories online: Annalise, or Eve, actually murdered Wes’s mom. Or little Christophe did the deed himself, and Annalise helped cover it up. For now, all Nowalk will allow is, “People have very smart theories. Those have all crossed my mind as well.”
Still, the showrunner—who says he’d originally planned to tackle the Annalise-Wes backstory in a later season and only decided to move up the timeline while writing the fall finale—vows that the mystery will be resolved, at least for viewers, by the time Season 2 concludes March 17. “The question is: Will Wes know who exactly they are to each other?” Nowalk teases. “And will Annalise finally tell him?”
One detail’s for certain: In the midseason premiere—which picks up two weeks after the shooting, on the day Annalise is released from the hospital—Murder’s antiheroine doesn’t feel like telling Wes much of anything. “She’s mad at him,” reports Davis, who adds that Annalise’s near-death experience has reopened long-ago wounds. “She feels like, ‘Enough with you! You’re a burden to me.’”
For his part, Wes is pretty “f—ed-up in the head,” Enoch says bluntly. “He’s dealing with the fact that he shot someone who’s close to him, for better or worse. That’s a difficult work scenario for him to return to, don’t you think?”
And yet Annalise and her criminally inclined Co. do have a job to finish: They need to get away with framing former client Catherine Hapstall (Amy Okuda), who’s about to go on trial for the murder of ADA Emily Sinclair (Sarah Burns) and the shooting of Annalise. But will a guilt-riddled Asher (Matt McGorry), the ADA’s true killer, stick to the plan? Teases Nowalk, “You’re going to be surprised by who takes Asher under their wing.”
Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend, Bonnie (Liza Weil), gets the flashback treatment to her law-school days, and Laurel (Karla Souza), the only other “Keating Five” student in the room when Annalise took a bullet, grows much closer to Wes. Teases Souza, “We share the most personal things with each other that we haven’t shared with anyone else in the group.”
Fans can also expect to learn who killed the filthy-rich Hapstall parents, as well as the reason Annalise’s fixer, Frank (Charlie Weber), agreed to kill pregnant sorority girl Lila for baby daddy Sam way back in Season 1. And, if Nowalk gets his wish, Annalise’s mother, Ophelia (Cicely Tyson), will also return for at least one episode.
It’s all leading up to a season finale that is “very different and offbeat,” Nowalk says, “which makes me excited and terrified at the same time.” Sounds like a plan for the perfect Murder.
How to Get Away With Murder, Midseason premiere, Thursday, Feb. 11, 10/9c, ABC