Creator Pete Nowalk and the cast on that lethal twist
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season 3 premiere of How to Get Away with Murder. Read at your own risk!
Another year, another murder mystery!
How to Get Away with Murder‘s third season premiere ended with the shocking reveal that one of their own will perish by season’s end.
Returning for their second year of law school, the Keating Five joined Annalise’s (Viola Davis) pro-bono legal clinic, which we learn she desperately offered to do after discovering that the university planned to fire her. But not everyone is happy she’s still on campus, with a mystery person plastering posters of Annalise’s face all over campus calling her a killer.
But mystery of that person’s identity pales in comparison to the twist at the end of the episode: A dead body is carted away from Annalise’s house, which is engulfed in flames. Who’s under that sheet? This season, Murder will be pulling its own version of Ten Little Indians, the film version of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, to reveal the identity of the deceased, executive producer Pete Nowalk tells EW.
“Every episode, we will reveal one more character on the night of the house fire that’s alive,” says Nowalk. “So every week, basically we’re crossing a character off the list in terms of if you’re playing bingo at home, you can cross one of your favorite characters off, or you have to wait for a few weeks.”
While Nowalk is staying mum on who’s dying — though clearly it’s not Annalise — he reveals, “it is someone who is pivotal to the show.”
Suffice it to say, the stress of being in the dark about their characters’ fates took a toll on the cast throughout the filming of season 3. “It was really hard not knowing,” says Aja Naomi King. “Every week, when we were doing the table read, we’d learn that someone was safe. You’re happy for that person, they’re still here in our tight-knit family, but sad for whoever might not be there.”
Their fears were both abated and realized recently when they finally discovered who was going to die. “We do know now, which is fascinating, interesting, and heartbreaking,” Matt McGorry says. “It’s very tricky. I wasn’t nervous, only because in life, you’ve just got to enjoy it. I knew there was nothing I could do one way or the other to sway the decision. It’s like all things, you can’t let in fear. You have to enjoy things. Whatever happens, you adapt and do whatever you have to.”
“The breath was taken away from me,” Karla Souza adds of finding out who’s going to die. “I never thought that it would hurt so much. I still don’t think it’s happening, because it’s a family, and to feel like your family is no longer going to be there is awful. It’s hard to remember that they’re not actually dying. We were all crying like babies, and I’ve been depressed. It’s heartbreaking and a shocking thing. Of course the story needs it, but we’re human beings.”
While the cast now knows who’s going to die, the actual scene has not yet been filmed. “When we finally shoot it, however it ends up playing out, I know it’s going to be the hardest thing for us to do in all the three years that we’ve shot this show so far,” King says.
Much like their identity, how the person dies is also being kept under wraps, though with Frank (Charlie Weber) on the loose, it seems fitting he could play a role in the person’s demise. A flashback in the premiere revealed that Frank brought Wes (Alfred Enoch) to meet his father, but after the gunshot rang out, Frank’s car was missing. He then went on the lam, shaving his beard and hair. But that didn’t stop Annalise from tracking him down, leading to a confrontation that has officially broken their relationship.
“After we end that first episode, Frank basically believes it’s him or her, because she has now sent a hitman for him,” Nowalk says. “Their conflict couldn’t get bigger. For our show, it’s probably the biggest enemy Annalise has faced, because he knows all of her secrets; he’s inside of her head. She knew that when she took him on. Does she want to take this monster on? Within that, we’re going to find out who Frank is, what he’s done before, who he was before he met Annalise. We’re exploring the backstory of Frank and Annalise this season as we get to some crazy heights of conflict.”
As for whether Frank actually fired the gun that killed Wallace, Nowalk says that will be revealed soon. “You’ll get a definitive answer a few episodes in,” he says. “Nothing is safe to say on the show, but it looks like [he did it].”
How to Get Away with Murder airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.