After months of tantalizing teases that someone in Annalise’s inner circle would perish in the house fire, How to Get Away with Murder shockingly revealed that Wes is dead. But now the question remains: Who killed him?
As revealed in the winter premiere, Wes actually died prior to the house fire. While the police and the Keating Four suspect that Annalise (Viola Davis) played a role in his death, the Mahoneys could be to blame. Either way, Annalise is in jail, and the K4 have lost their fearless leader. What’s next? EW turned to executive producer Pete Nowalk to find out:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where are we picking up?
PETE NOWALK: We’re picking up pretty much in the immediate aftermath. For me, I didn’t want to gloss over the dramatic reactions to Wes’ death and Annalise’s arrest. We’re really delving into the thick of those instant reactions.
How will everyone handle Wes’ death?
Everyone goes in a completely different direction. That was what was fun about writing these characters is none of them react the same. Connor (Jack Falahee) is going to be dark, I think Asher (Matt McGorry) feels his feelings a lot, Michaela (Aja Naomi King) is going to be sad and trying to fix things and make everything okay. It’s all the things that people are doing to avoid the feelings that grief brings. Obviously, Laurel (Karla Souza) has a huge emotional connection to Wes, so she’s devastated. Annalise is in shock. It’s all a lot.
Annalise is in jail. Is she in an orange jumpsuit? Are we seeing Orange Is the New Black?
Honestly, when I realized we had arrested Annalise in episode 2, I was like, “Wait a second, that means we’re going to have to see her in jail! That terrifies me, because who could make prison more interesting than Orange Is the New Black?” I feel like we found our way to do it where it’s awesome. Also, we had to put Viola Davis in a box and watch what she would do. That was such a good writing exercise. She’s in a jumpsuit. I’m going to say — spoiler alert — it’s burgundy. We’re just a little different.
You say you’re sticking her in a box. Does she end up in solitary?
No, I mean her cell. Annalise is actually very prominently not in solitary. When we see her, we’ll see that she’s in a jail cell with at least two other inmates because of overcrowding, which is super real right now. She’s going to have to deal with these women, like sharing a toilet in the open.
How does she take that?
It’s not good.
Are any of her clients in this jail?
We’re not going to see her cross with any of her clients, but we’ll see that her reputation precedes her.
How is everyone else dealing with the fact that their fearless leader is in jail?
Some people are happy about it, because they don’t like her, and they also think she might be guilty. Some people are overwhelmed because that means they have to fill her shoes — Bonnie specifically. But I think they’re all freaking worried, because if Annalise is in jail, are they all going to end up in jail, too? It seems like the beginning of the end.
Are we going to see a trial?
We will not see her official trial in the back half of the season. It’s only six episodes. But we’re going to see hearings and court cases. The whole idea is, “Can our team do anything so there is no trial?”
Who’s Annalise’s lawyer?
That is an interesting question. It’s a storyline, so I don’t want to spoil it. Is it Eve (Famke Janssen)? No, because that’s a conflict of interest. Who is she going to get? Who can she trust?
Hiring outside or is there a potential for someone within?
She could get an awesome lawyer, because it’s probably a really sexy case, and we’ll see if she decides to do that or batten down the hatches.
Will she represent herself?
That’s a possibility. There’s another lawyer that she knows, Bonnie, so it’s all a big decision.
What are Annalise’s exact charges? Because the police were originally looking at her in regards to Rebecca (Katie Findlay).
They charged her with arson and first-degree murder. They were looking into a lot of things, but right now she’s only been charged for Wes’ murder.
How desperate is Laurel to find out who killed Wes? Is that her journey?
Yes, I think that’s a great way to put it: She is desperate. She’s suspicious of people around her. There’s a lot of suspects that are in her inner circle. She’s also in grief, so it’s exciting to watch how Laurel reacts, because it’s really up and down. She’s strong, but she’s also devastated, so how does that come to light for her? Karla’s awesome. Karla gets to do a lot of great stuff.
We’re going to see what happened to Wes via flashback from the time he left the police precinct.
Are we only in his perspective?
We’re not only in his perspective. We’ll see where other people were that night as well. Each episode, we’re going to reveal another piece of the puzzle between what happened when he left the police station and when he died. It’s all really messy. We’re going to be surprised by what a lot of people were doing then.
A big theory is that the Mahoneys are behind Wes’ death. Is that a red herring, or should we be following that trail?
I’m not going to say one way or another, but I think it’s definitely a trail for the characters. That’s their first instinct, and sometimes your first instinct is right. They play a prominent part.
I know you don’t want to say much, but what can you tease for who is behind Wes’ death?
What’s fun about writing it is all the characters are trying to figure it out, too, so all the suspects are always being talked about. That was really helpful to me to be able to figure out who I wanted it to be.
Do we know the killer?
I know the killer. I just found out.
So you didn’t know when you were writing it?
I never know. I know people want to believe I’m a really competent writer, but I don’t know these things.
But what I meant was: Has the audience seen this person before?
I don’t want to answer. What I will say is it’s not going to be annoying and someone you’ve never met. It’s going to be satisfying, I hope.
Will Dr. Cicely Tyson be back?
She is, which is awesome. Ophelia comes back, which was obviously an important story for when Annalise’s mother and her father (Roger Robinson) find out their daughter has been arrested for murder. I think they’re going to have a really strong reaction. I can’t wait for people to see that. We always try to have her for at least one episode. The season wouldn’t be complete without her.
Now that Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) suspects Connor & Co. played a hand in Sam’s death, what’s next for him? What kind of danger does that put him in?
He feels like he’s in a lot of danger. He feels like he’s been suddenly given so much responsibility that he does not want. He now knows something he doesn’t want to know. That actually makes him a lot more sympathetic to Connor, who was trying to protect him from this. Laurel obviously has a lot of decisions to make, Oliver has a lot of decisions to make. Sometimes the answer to that is to do nothing and wait and see what happens. He has a lot of decision-making to do, let’s just say that.
How to Get Away with Murder returns Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.