“OH. MY. GOD. It’s going to start off in hell,” Viola Davis proclaims when asked how much worse things are going to get for Annalise Keating, the bad-ass anti-heroine she’s played for six seasons on ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder.
In short, Annalise is going to have to walk through fire (whether she comes back remains to be seen) in these 15 final episodes. “She can go lower and she can go darker,” Davis teases with a Cheshire cat grin on her face, speaking of her character’s journey and the depths we’ve yet to see the character sink to.
But the job has come with nothing but glee for her, and she is loving the conclusion of her story so far (they had shot six episodes at the time EW spoke to Davis). A sign-posted ending date is a chance to bring closure and wrap up each narrative with care and consideration. “We start off in hell and what I love about this season is [creator Pete Nowalk] is filling in all the little spaces, all the secrets, all the questions,” she says. “You’re going to know more about each character. All those questions you ever had about their past, maybe something about their lives that was brought up in other episodes that was never developed — it’s coming back.”
The biggest question of the final season is whether Annalise will survive and get the absolution she’s craved for nearly the entire series. Nowalk has already warned that everything won’t be coming up roses for the leading lady and her acolytes. “What do they deserve?” he previously told EW. “What’s actually going to make them happy? Running away from your sins does not necessarily mean you’re going to be happy… We have 15 episodes to have each character decide what they want for themselves, and in that, they have to grow up. Every character has that journey of trying to figure out who they are… Not everyone’s going to get a happy ending.”
For Davis, she still believes in redemption for Annalise. “Everybody deserves redemption,” she insists. “I do believe that she deserves it. Annalise is a mess. She’s a huge mess, and she’s one of those people that probably kills anything she comes in contact with. A huge part of that is because she’s an addict.”
If it were up to her, Annalise would cut ties with everyone and escape to a tropical getaway. “What does it look like for her to be on a beach somewhere having cut off all those kids, all those relationships, and for her to press the reset button in her life?” she fantasizes. Though the outcome is unknown, even for her (“Pete says I’m the worst… for keeping secrets,” she says), she hints Annalise might engage in more self-preservation than ever before at this final juncture. “The stakes are too high for you not to see that,” she teases.
No matter what happens, it’s a chance for Davis to close a significant life chapter, one that has earned her an Emmy (she’s up for another this weekend) for playing a role she describes as “the ride of my career.” Naturally, nearly everyone else in the cast says they would want to play Annalise. And who can blame them? But when pressed, Davis admits if she had to play any other character on the show, she’d happily take up the mantle of the slightly sociopathic Frank (Charlie Weber). “I’m picking Frank. I’m going to go all the way. It would’ve been bad-ass if I’d been Frank killing all those people,” she laughs. “Frank is crazy.”
She, of course, has her favorite moments after six seasons. Annalise has had some truly outrageous lines and scenarios — who can forget the immortal “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone” from season 1? However, Davis finds resonance in a less splashy line from season 4. “Nobody roots for Goliath,” which is also the episode name. “I love that line,” she reflects. “It’s been the journey throughout.”
Though, rather than any one line of dialogue, any standout outfit, or scathing courtroom takedown, it’s a GIF that sums up the last six years for her. “My favorite GIF is her giving someone the side-eye,” she says. “That defines her.”
How to Get Away With Murder returns to ABC on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 10 p.m.
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