Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the winter finale of How to Get Away with Murder. Read at your own risk!
Welp, that just happened.
After months of fretting over who was under the sheet, slain as a result of a house fire at Annalise Keating’s (Viola Davis) home, it was revealed in How to Get Away with Murder‘s winter finale that underdog law student and resident moral compass Wes Gibbons (Alfred Enoch) is dead.
EW was on set for Wes’ death episode, which was filmed in October, so be sure to pick up next week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly to get a behind-the-scenes look at how it all came to be. In the meantime, Enoch reveals his reaction to finding out that Wes would die, reflects on Wes’ journey and teases what’s next. (Read our postmortem with executive producer Pete Nowalk here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you find out that it was going to be Wes under the sheet?
ALFRED ENOCH: A couple of weeks ago, maybe a month ago.
Was this all Pete’s decision, or was there a desire from you to do something else?
Oh, as in was I like, “You have to kill Wes”? This is ultimately the question, right?
No. The decision was creative. I didn’t become an actor to have a steady job, but that’s one of the nice things about this show thus far as well. In my experience on it, we don’t do 22 or 24 episodes, which must be difficult. I’ve always enjoyed being able to go and do something else in the hiatus if you can find something that fits in or if anyone will give you a job. It’s nice from that perspective, but it’s not like the show and its schedule don’t allow that to be the case.
What was your reaction when Pete called you up to the office to tell you?
Yeah, I get it. I was thinking about it obviously, because they set up this big mystery, and I was like, “Oh, they’re going to kill Wes. That makes sense.” I thought they were maybe going to kill Wes the end of last season, because there’s so much story, and they go through it so fast I’m like, “What have we seen about Michaela?” We’ve done so much Wes story. It’ll be interesting, it’ll be good, they’ll be able to do something else. Also, I think it’s good because some of the tensions are getting unresolved. Do you know what I mean? Are they never going to find out that Bonnie killed Rebecca, because how are Wes and Bonnie going to exist under the same roof? I would much rather this happen than they find out and they make up. I would be like, “That can’t happen.”
But that’s one of the challenges of the show. Sensational and dramatic things happen, and then the writers amazingly find ways to keep the characters coexisting, but that’s pretty tricky. That was something we struggled with the first season, because we were shooting those scenes and we didn’t know Wes had killed Sam. The characters know it, but finding it out, it was tricky to be like, “Why does everyone forgive him for embroiling them in a murder plot, which ultimately he has nothing to do with?” They could’ve left. How do they get past that? The nature of the show throws up these problems, so I think this is a good resolution to many of those.
Was it hard coming to work every week not knowing who was going to be under the sheet?
It was tricky, yeah. I mean, I was like, “It’s not my decision. There’s nothing I can do about it, so I’ll just wait and see.” But I was thinking it would be Wes initially. I guess everyone was like, “Oh, it’s going to be me,” but then Aja said something interesting, which actually diverted my thinking about that. She said, “It can’t be Wes,” because I think it’s in the second episode, we see something directly after Annalise cries and is upset at who she sees is under the sheet — I haven’t seen it — but directly after that moment she, in the following episode, is revealed to go straight to Oliver and be like, “Wipe the phone,” which implied that it was an act, we all thought. Maybe that was the initial idea they were going on. So, Aja was like, “There’s no way she could do that if it was Wes,” and I was like, “Oh, all right. Fair enough.” So I kind of stopped thinking, but the other half of me was like, “Makes a lot of sense.” I don’t know, you’re preparing yourself for the fall, but it was funny. It was just the week before that Pete told me, I just had this feeling. I was just like, “I think it is going to be me.” I was like, “I just think it was going to be Wes.”
How do you think his death is going to affect everyone?
In the story, difficult. Again, it’s a very difficult thing to reconcile, because the nature of the story is that it always moves forward and it moves forward very fast. It’s difficult when you have something as weighty in the past to deal with. I look forward to seeing how they deal with it, but I think there’s something dramatically interesting in the fact that it’s going to create more plot, so they have to keep going on a practical level. I’m interested to see how they strike a balance.
So you’ll be back in the second half of the season to reveal how Wes died?
Yes. That’s my understanding.
So, this isn’t the end for you at the moment.
True. For the moment.
Are you excited to see how exactly he ended up in this position?
Yeah. The way the ninth episode has been constructed leaves a lot of questions as to what happened. It made me think a bit of the first season, where you see Sam Keating’s dead, but that’s it. So, how do you get there? It’s a bit like that. You find out he’s dead, but what happens from the moment he leaves the police station till then? That’s still to be unpacked and explored, and I think that will be interesting. I’m intrigued from that perspective.
But the thing that has me more interested than that is we were talking about an idea of having just little instances of Wes with other characters prior to it, just to see another side of his relationship with other characters. That intrigues me much more, because the thing I was thinking about recently was like, “How funny, Wes is never going to X, Y, Z, like finish law school or do this.” I mean, are they ever going to finish law school? How does the show operate outside that? I’m sure they will work it out if they get to it. But I was, like, “He’s never going to get his happy ending. He’s never going to come out of it. That’s kind of sad.” Like scenes that we haven’t had — I thought there would be more scenes with Wes and Asher exploring the fact that they have something in common, but not necessarily them sitting down and being like, “So, I killed someone and you killed someone too. How do you feel about it?” But just like, they’re both dealing with difficult things. Or just little things that I wanted to see, situations that I wanted to see him in that I’m not going to get to see him in now. That’s the thing that is more intriguing to me at the moment than just literally what happens to him.
We do learn that Wes was dead before the house exploded. Who do you think is to blame for Wes’s death? Do you have a theory?
I think it looks like the shadowy Mahoney, borderline legal, borderline crime organization, would be a very possible topic. But I don’t know. They could be like, “It’s Frank!”
Annalise did call all the students to her house right before the fire.
Yes. I would be very surprised if Annalise kills Wes before the fire.
What do you think it says about the show that the person with sort of the biggest moral compass is the one being killed off?
That’s good. It frees it up. I mean, do I see him as that? I don’t know. I guess I think about him more absolutely than in relation. I think Wes would think of it, to some degree, like that. Laurel is someone else who has a moral compass, but maybe a bit more of a different relationship with it, and Asher I think also. I think Michaela and Connor are quite unscrupulous, but it depends. The fun thing is that the show challenges those assumptions, right? It’s not just it’s the moral character and he’s gone and the rest of them aren’t moral. I like that the show challenges our expectations of the characters and some characters are seemingly moral or not, and what’s the gray area here, because I think it’s simplistic to say someone is the good person, someone is the bad person. He does have that, but they’ve dragged him through the muck, and I think that’s interesting.
How do you think Wes has evolved from the first season when people were calling him the puppy to now?
It’s an iceberg isn’t it? My work involved things which weren’t shown. Literally, things we shot that were takes that weren’t used or whatever, and my conception of it, my private work, isn’t going to be seen. That’s fine, that’s the nature of the job, but you want it to be buoyed up by something more substantial. That frustrated me the first time I was like, “Oh, the puppy,” because I was like, “That’s interesting,” because I think I could make to you exactly the opposite argument. You see five law students, four of them see this professor who’s prestigious and everyone else is like, “She’s a big deal,” and they’re all desperate to be her and be like her, and be in her class. And he says, “I’m not sure what you’re doing is entirely moral,” and he’s the one who asks the question. I think it’s naive to blindly follow and not to question. I think it’s important to question and be skeptical, and he’s the only voice of skepticism at the beginning. I like when Annalise gets questioned, when she gets challenged, because I don’t think she should have a free pass because she’s impressive and this and that, and the other. I like to see her being put on the spot or her being compromised, or someone’s standing up to her.
So, the fact that he does that in the first episode, he’s just arrived to this prestigious law school off the waitlist, he’s barely there, has a bad first day, and he gets chosen to be this puppy. And he’s like, “I don’t want to be your sympathy case, and I don’t want you to blackmail me.” I never thought it was just straightforward as that in the first place. But I think the show has put a strain on his principles, and it’s taken away from him the life he thought he would be able to have. It’s dragged him, as we found out in the second season, back. It looks like he’s come from a very difficult place with what he’s been through in his childhood, and he’s got a new dawn at the beginning of the whole thing, and then he gets dragged back in, which I think is compelling as an arc, as it is.
But I’m reticent to simplistically say, “Oh, he’s grown up. He’s toughened up. He’s this, that and the other.” Because when he’s 11 or 12, he sees his mom with a gash in her throat because she stabbed herself and committed suicide. Obviously, he has grown because that’s the effect of all our experiences. They change us and affect us, but I wouldn’t necessarily chart it.
What is next for you? Do you want to continue doing TV?
Yeah, it’s the steady job thing.This isn’t what drew me to acting, but it’s inherent in the profession, that there’s infinite variety. The fact that not only do you get to tell different kinds of stories, play different kind of parts, and do it in different mediums, how exciting is that? Why would you be like, “Oh, I only want to do X, Y or Zed?”
Are you hoping to stay close to the cast?
Yeah, absolutely. Are you joking? That’s the thing I will most miss. Not just the cast, but all of the people. I will miss the story, the character and all of that as well inevitably, because this is as much story as I’ve gone through with one character ever. Obviously, I did Harry Potter for 10 years, but I didn’t get to play as much of Dean Thomas’ story.
Right, what do we really know about Dean Thomas?
Exactly. So, it’s not the same. Obviously, that’s going to be very strange and a loss. But that’s the thing that really most hits me, you can look at it any which way, but I guess there’s something exciting about the fact that, oh well, back potentially to unemployment or to something else — but there’s infinite possibilities.
Are you going back to London, or are you going to stay here?
I will go wherever I get work. Seriously, that’s the reason I ended up here in the first place. One of the many nice things about this job is that I have people over here and I have work that people have seen over here. So, again, if I can work in England and in the States, and God knows where else in the world, I will do it gladly. Just the thought of not being around with everyone is the most difficult bit about it. That’s the thing that’s really going to be odd. But the nice thing about being around till the end of the season is that at least I can put off that realization until June.
With your character over the last three seasons what’s been your point of pride, and what’s maybe been a moment that you wish you could change?
Oh, goodness. I mean, every time I see it, I think I should’ve done it all differently. I’m proud that I managed to acclimate to [TV] and I guess maybe it’s the same answer, and I think maybe I could’ve acclimated more. But I don’t know. I was telling you the first season, like not knowing what’s happened directly before scenes and you kind of think, “Oh, well, we couldn’t played that all differently if we’d just known who did it.” That’s been very tricky, but for that reason I’m glad with what’s come out it.
How to Get Away with Murder will return Thursday, Jan. 19 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. Pick up next week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Wes’ death episode, with scoop from the cast and creator Pete Nowalk.