By Maureen Lee Lenker
May 11, 2020 at 07:27 PM EDT
  • TV Show
  • ABC

Annalise Keating is facing the death penalty. On trial for murder(s), she stares down the courtroom and declares, “What I am is a survivor.”

It’s one of the last speeches Viola Davis will ever give as this complex, fierce woman who’s shepherded her law school charges through six seasons of murder, manipulation, and Machiavellian plotting. The entire set is rapt as Davis delivers it, flawlessly, through multiple takes.

Davis, chatting on a court bench in the hallway of the soundstage courtroom that’s been Annalise Keating’s domain for the last six years, feels the weight of this moment.

Launching in 2014 with twisty homicides and the immortal words, “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?”, How to Get Away With Murder blew up expectations for a legal ensemble drama. “It’s redefined the leading lady on television — what it means to be a woman, what it means to be sexual, what it means to be valued without being a Mr. Potato Head of male desirability,” the Emmy-, Tony-, and Oscar-winning actress muses. “It’s redefined how we see television.”

Davis promises an “honorable goodbye,” while creator Pete Nowalk pledges answers to key questions, closure, and…tragedy (murder is in the title after all). “Each of the characters makes a really strong choice about who they want to be, that you might hate, but that’s what that character would do,” he teases. “It’s going to be really emotional. I resist anything that’s a normal version of happiness.”

The show has brought plenty of twists and turns over the years, but writing the final chapter allowed Nowalk the chance to really tie up loose ends. “The show really comes full circle, which felt satisfying in a way the show hasn’t been because it’s driven by a cliffhanger and twists at the end of every episode,” he says. “I wanted it to have an ending.”

That doesn't mean there still won't be plenty of unexpected moments along the way. As seen in the exclusive clip above, Annalise has to contend with everything from surprise witnesses to her own self-loathing. Still, it's all part and parcel of bringing a sense of an ending to these characters.

Liza Weil, who has portrayed lawyer and Annalise’s righthand Bonnie for six seasons, echoes Nowalk’s feelings. “It’s very satisfying for all of us as the characters,” she says. “It all really tracks emotionally for us. I think it’s going to be extremely satisfying for viewers too.” Adds Matt McGorry, who played law student Asher Millstone, “It's all the answers you've ever wanted, some of the answers you never wanted, and a strong sense of closure probably in the biggest way for really the first time on the show."

Perhaps Amirah Vann, who plays attorney Tegan Price, sums it up best: “Bring the tissues and the wine.” Cause you won’t get away with saying goodbye without a little trauma — blunt force or otherwise.

The final episode of How to Get Away With Murder airs Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC.

A version of this story appears in the May 2020 issue of Entertainment Weekly, which you can buy here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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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.

  • TV Show
  • 6
  • TV-14
  • Peter Nowalk
  • ABC
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