WARNING: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s How to Get Away With Murder. Read at your own risk!
The puppy did it — again!
During How to Get Away With Murder’s midseason finale, viewers finally learned who shot Annalise, but what they probably weren’t expecting was the reason why, nor the crazy flashback that accompanied it.
It turns out that everything was a setup to protect Asher (Matt McGorry), who snapped after his father killed himself, so he ran Sinclair (Sarah Burns) down with his car — little does he know, Annalise (Viola Davis) is actually to blame for the leak that ruined his father’s career.
Annalise then masterfully orchestrated a plan that would pin everything on Catherine Hapstall (Amy Okuda). In short, it would play out as follows: Annalise invites Sinclair over to provide evidence against Catherine, who goes into a rage, pushing Sinclair over the balcony, and firing the same gun she used to kill her parents to shoot Annalise in the leg. Catherine would then attempt suicide by overdosing on pills and wandering into the woods to later be found by the police.
The only problem? Annalise desperately needed one of the Keating Five to shoot her, and when they all refused, she taunted Wes (Alfred Enoch) by telling him that she lied about Rebecca’s (Katie Findlay) fate. In response, Wes shot her right in the gut, and moved to shoot her in the head until she whispered the name “Christophe.” Cue flashback: Young Wes, a.k.a Christophe, telling the police about his mother’s apparent suicide, with Annalise on the other side of the glass and Eve (Famke Janssen) asking, “What did we do?” Seriously, what have they done? EW turned to creator Pete Nowalk to find out:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you decide that Wes was actually the shooter?
PETE NOWALK: It was when we were writing that first episode. I give the audience a lot of credit. A lot of people were guessing that Annalise shot herself or it was a frame job. But we didn’t know until we were actually writing the episode how or why it was going to happen, and that Annalise would tell him about Rebecca being dead. We didn’t know that we were going to flash back to that moment at the end. The questions are always who did it, but what’s more interesting for us is the why and the how.
We know that Annalise will survive, but how will Wes attempting to kill her shake up their dynamic?
It’s a mess between them. It changes everything. They’ve always had a very difficult relationship, but I don’t see how they recover from this. They both have a lot to recover from. That’s going to be hard for them when we come back.
Can Wes still work for or trust Annalise? Or will the Christophe of it all keep him coming back?
That’s the thing that makes it extremely complicated. With one word, his entire life has changed, because now he needs answers about something that he probably didn’t even know he needed answers about. He now knows that Annalise has those answers. He’s got a lot to process. This was something that we came up with at the last minute. We always knew there was a backstory there, but we just didn’t know how we were going to tell that story or when. Honestly, I thought I would wait seasons and seasons, but it just felt necessary here.
What surprised you the most about writing this Murder Night?
I guess what surprised me the most was that Wes shot to kill. My rule is we try to be the audience too. We sometimes have goals in sight, but we know that if we can think of those goals six episodes before we have to get there, the audience is going to figure it out too. You guys are thinking of every single scenario. Up until the last minute, I didn’t know he was shooting to kill. I can’t even tell you what was part of the original plan because we changed things so much, in a way we have to, and that makes it fun to write, otherwise you would’ve figured it all out.
What’s in store for the second half of the season in regards to Annalise? Is she finally paying for all that she’s done?
All that she’s done, but they’ve all done some terrible things and they all have to pay for that. We will continue to flash back when we come back. There’s obviously a huge mystery there and we need to see that. She also has to deal with a lot of stuff in the present. This crazy plan that she says make no sense, and that’s the point, is it going to work? Does she want it to work? Does she even want to live? She wasn’t planning to ever tell Wes about Christophe and now she’s got to clean up that mess.
Will the flash device portion of the show solely be flashing back to the Christophe era?
We will flash back, yeah. That’s what I love about doing that is that we are changing up the formula of the show. Last year we didn’t have any flash-forwards and backs [in the second half]. The point being the show will always change, and that’s exciting for us to write.
Can you tell us the location of where that Christophe scene took place?
It was a law enforcement agency.
What can you tease of the connection that Annalise has to Wes’ mother?
I’m not going to tease anything. There’s a lot to read into there. We’re going to take some time to tell that story, so I don’t want to give away anything. You can analyze that scene, what her expression means, what Eve’s doing there, what Wes is saying to the FBI agent. I think there’s a lot of information there, but there’s a mystery for a reason.
Will we see more of Eve in the second half?
From the information the show has provided, we know that Wes’ mother killed herself, but should we not assume that’s true?
You should never assume with this show. Never assume! Haven’t we taught you anything?
In making this whole plan, does Annalise feel at all guilty for her role in the death of Asher’s father, or was this more about Nate than anything — or even herself, for that matter?
It’s a combination of everything. What I love about Annalise is she acts in moments; she makes decisions and acts on them following her brain, but also her gut a lot. She definitely feels guilty about what happened to Asher’s dad, and you see that when she’s looking at her phone and reading the article. She’s protecting everyone, and at the same time, has a little bit of a death wish. It’s a lot on her plate. I would probably want to escape, too.
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Asher finally got his hands dirty by killing Sinclair. How is this going to affect him?
That was a snapped moment. That’s not anything Asher ever expected of himself. I don’t even think he has the emotional capacity to process it. He’s a guy who lives via jokes, even if they’re bad jokes. He’s going to have to grow up a lot and decide what type of person he wants to be.
We didn’t see Asher go to the police as we had seen in a prior flash-forward. Could that also be part of Annalise’s plan?
Yes, that is a question that we will answer when we come back for episode 10. We didn’t see certain flash-forwards; we just didn’t get to that point in the episode. Yes, that could be part of the plan. That could be him going against the plan. That could be whatever you think it is.
How will Asher feel when he finds out that it’s actually Annalise, not Sinclair, to blame for his father’s death?
I imagine he would be quite upset and horrified by that. That’s another thing that Annalise has to hopefully keep secret.
What does his dynamic with Bonnie (Lisa Weil) look like moving forward?
Bonnie was in complete caretaker mode in this episode. He already felt like she couldn’t look at him the same way, and I don’t know how this helps that. We know that Bonnie is a murderer of Rebecca, so maybe this can bond them. It really changes their relationship a lot going forward.
With Wes now knowing that Annalise has been lying and Rebecca’s dead, is it only a matter of time before he discovers that Bonnie really killed her?
It depends on how much Annalise wants to protect Bonnie. How else could he find that out? Only Bonnie, Annalise, and Frank [Charlie Weber] know that secret. If I was him, I’d want to know for sure.
Nate (Billy Brown) publicly threatened Sinclair, which is a lot of the reason why Annalise came up with this plan. So will he be a suspect when the show returns?
I won’t answer that. The thing that we have to answer with Nate is why he picked those kids up in the car, and what he did with them, and what his thinking is on all of this. Whether he’s a suspect or not, we’ll find out very early on in episode 10.
You’ve dropped a number of hints about Laurel’s (Karla Souza) family this season. What might we learn in the second half of the season?
We’re just writing it, but it’s funny you ask because we were talking about that today. We’re going to learn more. We’ve dropped too many hints to not tell you more to her story and what sort of family she comes from — who her father is, who her mother is. We’ve only met them very briefly and we know that they have a lot of money. We’re going to tell you a lot more about that in the second half.
And those people we saw last season really were her family?
Yes. [Laughs] It almost makes me sad that you can’t believe anything we do on this show. Yes, that was her family.
Will you explore how Frank and Bonnie started working for Annalise?
Yes. In the back half of the season, we will see them in the flashbacks as well.
Will we get the actual first meeting?
No, we will not see the first meeting right now. I’m only two episodes ahead of you. But for right now, I don’t think so.
Are Bonnie and Annalise okay now? Has this put their dynamic back on track?
For me, “okay” is saying a lot. Their fight was usurped by this night. There’s still a lot of baggage between them, and that’s why it’s important to me to start to show a little bit of their backstory as well — and the relationship from 10 years ago, even, when they didn’t know each other — to show why they’re so bonded. Bonnie and Annalise are bonded in ways that could never be broken, no matter how many fights or Murder Nights they go through.
What’s in store for Connor (Jack Falahee) and Oliver (Conrad Ricamora), especially since Phillip (Jefferson White) is still on the loose and knows where they live?
Phillip is obviously a big question mark. Last time we saw him, he was at the Hapstall mansion, then we went inside and we did not see him again. Connor is always going to be a bit of a Nervous Nellie, understandably. It’s another crazy Murder Night for Connor. How is he going to protect Oliver from this and keep this from Oliver without having his own little breakdown?
What’s next for Michaela (Aja Naomi King) and Caleb (Kendrick Sampson)?
Last time we saw her, it’s another flash-forward we didn’t catch up to. She got home and he asked how she was and she said, “Good.” We now know she was lying. She’s got a lot of performing to do. She’s got to be a little bit more Annalise all of a sudden, and we’ll see if she can actually handle that — and if it’s something she even wants to handle. She has a very big heart, and she has a conscience, so it’s going to be very hard for her.
With Catherine, we know that Frank drugged her, but she was meant to wake up in the woods, as we saw in a previous flash-forward. Where will we pick up with her in particular?
All I’ll say is we’re picking up two weeks later. Last we saw Catherine, she had woken up and there’s a police officer there. When the police find her, that’s the dawn after Murder Night. I’d imagine she’s waking up to a very confusing state. Part of the surprise is how we come back and what’s happened, so I don’t want to reveal anything about that, but she’s definitely got a lot of explaining to do.
How to Get Away With Murder returns Thursday, Feb. 11 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.