Credit: Mitch Haaseth/ABC

The shows of Shondaland will collide Thursday night as How to Get Away with Murder and Scandal stage a crossover.

In the wake of her class action lawsuit hitting a major roadblock, Murder‘s Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) sought out Scandal‘s Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) at the close HTGAWM‘s most recent hour, which served as the official kickoff of the crossover and confirmation that these two worlds do co-exist — Liza Weil having played two different characters across both shows be damned!

During the Scandal hour of the crossover, Annalise and Michaela (Aja Naomi King) make their way to D.C. to seek Olivia’s assistance in fast-tracking a judicial reform class action to the Supreme Court, which will prove challenging considering Olivia’s recent fall from political grace. The Murder hour then features Olivia and Marcus (Cornelius Smith Jr.) helping Annalise argue her case in the nation’s highest court. How will these characters get along? EW turned to Murder boss Pete Nowalk to get the scoop:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Talk about what brings Annalise Keating and Olivia Pope together for the crossover.
PETE NOWALK: So, Annalise goes to Olivia to get help on her class action case, which has been denied and is basically shut down. She needs someone in D.C., someone very powerful to navigate the ins and outs in order to get this class action heard by the Supreme Court. Olivia doesn’t know who Annalise is, and Annalise knows of Olivia, but they don’t each other. So, there’s a lot of ground to cover there, and a lot of conflict to get through, before the two of them team up to take on this huge project.

How well do Annalise and Olivia initially work together?
That’s the fun of the episode. These are two really unique, strong-minded people. The other thing about them is that they both are used to giving orders, not taking orders, especially Annalise, so it’s going to be interesting to see if she can do that, if she can listen to someone else’s advice even if she disagrees with it. What’s awesome about the two hours is neither one of them gives up who they are, but they are both working for something bigger than themselves. I think it’s interesting to watch if they can put aside their own egos, put aside their own styles, to succeed and get this victory they both want.

Annalise and Olivia are two characters who have done some pretty bad stuff in their lives. Is that something they can bond over or at least recognize in each other?
Yes, I think they both recognize that there’s a lot more beneath the surface. But I do think these are two people who aren’t used to being vulnerable, especially in front of strangers. I don’t think they are going to dive too much into divulging their deepest, darkest secrets. What is interesting is that other people might expose those secrets to them. I think they will both find out a lot more about each other in ways that make them both uncomfortable.

What do you think they learn from one another?
Oh, they learn so much, I can’t wait for you to see it! I think they both learn to lean on other people and to ask for help, like the kindness of a stranger, really. I think that’s not comfortable for either of them, but again, I think what’s beautiful to see is that they both put aside their own crap in order to do something good for the world.

Annalise has been on a redemption tour this season. On the flip side, over on Scandal, Olivia has been hitting her darkest points. Might some of what Annalise has been trying to do rub off on Olivia a little bit?
When Shonda [Rhimes] and I decided to do it, we really kept ourselves honest by making sure that the characters were going to meet each other in a place that made sense for both of them. You’re right that both of them have hit a low-point. Yes, Annalise has been struggling to redeem herself, but she hasn’t been getting there. Meanwhile, Olivia is not disgraced, but
I think she’s not working at the White House anymore and she’s in this transition period, and what’s cool is that they can both help each other get out of this place and dig themselves out of the ditch they’re both in.

When you teased the crossover in EW‘s Feb. 2 issue, there was mention that Rhimes had pointed to a scene that aired on Scandal last season that could lay the groundwork for these shows to crossover. Do you recall the scene in question?
Yes, I don’t remember the exact scene, but this is the deal: Annalise has been working on this criminal justice reform case to get people better defense, and Fitz and Marcus have been working for the same cause to reform criminal justice. What Shonda pulled up for me was a speech Fitz gave — I think it was his last interview before he leaves the White House — where he’s talking about this initiative and how he wants to work to improve the criminal justice system. I did not know that when we made this Annalise’s cause, but we’re like, “They are on the same wavelength, these two people can help each other.”

Will we actually get some resolution to the class-action lawsuit during the crossover or is that something you’ll answer in the final two episodes of Murder‘s fourth season?
You get the feeling of a resolution. Obviously, we’re not going to get a verdict about whether they win or lose the class-action. It doesn’t happen that quickly, but that will happen by the end of the season. But I think that the important thing is that Annalise and Olivia end our arc in a very clean and satisfying way.

The Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder crossover will air Thursday starting at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. At 8 p.m. ET that same night, Grey’s Anatomy kicks off the TGIT Crossover event by introducing Station 19′s leading lady Jaina Lee Ortiz. Check out photos from the crossover here.

Episode Recaps

How to Get Away With Murder

Viola Davis stars as a law professor where she teaches, wait for it, how to get away with murder.

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