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'How to Get Away with Murder' star Marcia Gay Harden teases 'shocking discovery'

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Mitch Haaseth/ABC

Annalise may not be able to help the Keating Five get away with murder now that her sister-in-law has come to town.

During last week’s episode of How to Get Away with Murder, Marcia Gay Harden made her debut as Sam’s sister, Hannah Keating, who insisted to police that her brother is not a killer. Little does she know, however, that her brother is actually dead. Though it sounds like it may not be long before the truth about Sam comes out, since Harden reveals that Thursday’s episode includes a “shocking discovery.” Find out what’s in store when Hannah goes toe-to-toe with Annalise (Viola Davis):

What was it about this role that made you want to sign on?

MARCIA GAY HARDEN: It was Viola. I love Viola. I’ve loved her for a long time. I know her through the acting circuit, but I’ve never worked with her. I just think she’s a powerhouse. This character that she’s created in this sensual general who everybody kowtows to in that world of the Keating Five and the law offices, it was clear that whoever was going to go up against her was going to have to be a general of a different sort and have different artillery and different weapons, so that seemed exciting to me. And just to get to be on this show, the writing is immaculate. I love it.

Tell us about Hannah Keating.

HARDEN: Hannah is a bit of a rule follower. She’s judgmental in that way and has a strong moral code. She’s a single woman psychiatrist living in Boston. She and Annalise have a history. It’s really more about varying moral codes than it is about what could be obvious. For me, it has nothing to do with class or race, although Annalise could feel differently. For Hannah, it’s more about a moral code. A long time ago, that moral code was broken with Sam and Annalise’s relationship. Even though she’s a psychiatrist and understands the dark things about people, from what I can get from her character, that was an inciting factor. Mostly, she’s come down here not because she doesn’t like Annalise, she’s come down here because something is wrong. Her brother is being accused of murder. That’s the most bizarre thing anybody could say about somebody you know. It’s bizarre. She’s come down to set that right and to discover what’s going on and find Sam. In this case, she doesn’t seem Machiavellian to me in her arrival. She seems Machiavellian to the audience because they already know about Annalise. She’s just trying to figure out what the hell happened to her brother. She’s not showing up to cause trouble, but inadvertently she does, because she won’t rest with this illogical world that’s been presented. She sees through it. She’s a psychiatrist, she watches people. She’s like a bloodhound. She smells out something iffy and she goes in for the Achilles heel.

She believes Sam didn’t kill Lila, but how would she feel if she found out he was having an affair with her?

HARDEN: I feel like she knows that. She knew that about the affair and of course she didn’t like it. He’s married. That’s why I say her moral code. He’s already cheated once with Annalise and then he married her. She’s a psychiatrist, right? If someone cheats once, chances are they’re going to cheat again. Their moral code is such that that’s what they can do. To someone who is not a cheater, that’s just not what you’d do. But to murder? A cheater and a murderer are two different things. In the teaser, [Annalise] says, “He’s not the man we thought he was.” That’s what Annalise is trying to convince Hannah of. That would be a big convincing job that needs to happen. OK, the guy was an ass, but a murderer? Wait a minute. There’s a big developed scene between Annalise and Hannah that’s very contentious and very volatile. At the end of it, there’s a huge, shocking discovery that changes everything about both of the ladies’ approaches.

Because she’s a psychiatrist, does she suspect anything amiss with the kids?

HARDEN: Yeah, she smells it. Every time she walks up, they’re in little clusters talking to each other, whispering and seeming so guilty. Something doesn’t seem right. That’s what she’s come there to do, to sniff out, to bloodhound out what is rotten in the state of Denmark. Every little clue is fodder—the behavior of these kids, every time you walk in the room, they stop talking. It’s weird what’s going on. She’s on her own trying to flesh out the idiosyncrasies that don’t match. Then things get heightened.

Because of how Bonnie (Liza Weil) felt about Sam, will Hannah find an ally in her?

HARDEN: She does. She spots that. She knows some things about Bonnie and Sam and she got right for that relationship as a potential ally and a potential source of information. “Come on, you and me can align ourselves.” She’s very wily that way. I don’t think Hannah is above manipulation. She certainly can manipulate with the best of them. She’s just not the expect at secret keeping that Annalise is.

How to Get Away with Murder airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.