How to Get Away With Murder star Matt McGorry on that killer reveal
Warning: This article contains spoilers for How to Get Away With Murder season 6, episode 11, "The Reckoning."
While How to Get Away With Murder has been asking all season long who killed Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), we've been asking a different question since the midseason finale: Who killed Asher Millstone (Matt McGorry)?
Thursday's episode gave us the answer to the latter, and it's certainly one we didn't expect: Agent Pollock (Deborah Levin), Asher's point person at the FBI, whom we'd previously only known as an apparent minion of Xavier Castillo (Gerardo Celasco). After watching footage of Asher's bludgeoning at the hands of Oliver (Conrad Ricamora), Pollock went to answer Asher's calls of distress. But instead of providing the safety net he required, she used the fire poker to end his life and potentially frame Oliver, Connor (Jack Falahee), and Michaela (Aja Naomi King) for his death.
One thing she didn't know, however, was that Gabriel (Rome Flynn) was listening behind his door and saw a sliver of what happened. Gabriel went to the FBI, initially believing he'd seen Laurel (Karla Souza) end Gabriel's life, before realizing with horror that he recognized Agent Pollock's earring as a match for the woman he saw leaving Asher's lifeless body behind.
Much of the episode was dedicated to Asher, with Connor, Michaela, Oliver, Bonnie (Liza Weil), and more memorializing him as his funeral came and went. In flashback, we saw many of Asher's final hours, including the emotional final video message he left for his friends, urging them to follow in his footsteps and do the right thing.
Meanwhile, we saw Annalise living under house arrest with her dementia-suffering mother, Ophelia (Cicely Tyson). While trying to get a sense of the full charges the state has against her and sussing out whether Michaela and Connor had turned on her, she also discovered that Nate (Billy Brown) had betrayed her on an even deeper level by giving Denver's files to the FBI. Tegan (Amirah Vann) officially became Annalise's lawyer, thus learning some of Annalise's darkest family secrets. And if that wasn't enough, Annalise finally came out to her mother.
It was a busy episode of How to Get Away With Murder, but let's follow in the Keating Five's footsteps and pour one out for Asher by checking in with the actor who played him for six seasons.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m assuming you learned the identity of Asher’s killer by reading this episode's script. How shocked were you by who it was?
MATT MCGORRY: I was told beforehand, actually. I can't remember how long that was, but I think definitely before I got the script. On the one hand, I was definitely shocked. It's a character that Asher's never met before. Also, I liked that it was the FBI in a sense, too, because the FBI does have a long history of doing shady things and oppressive things… Part of what I love about the show is it talks about real social issues. When I was growing up, I did not know about the history of the FBI in many ways, and the COINTEL program that was meant to destabilize the civil rights movement. So I think it's beautiful. As an activist myself, it really feels like a wonderful synergy of how these things are connected in terms of who ends up killing Asher.
We’ve pretty much only known Agent Pollock before as someone we thought was working with Xavier Castillo. Now we find out she’s also FBI, which leaves two possibilities: Either she killed Asher for Xavier or she killed him for the FBI. Which is more likely?
I don't think that Xavier has any direct bone to pick with Asher. From what I understand, he's a very vindictive person, so I'm sure that there could be some sort of distant revenge plot, but given Asher being directly a mole to the FBI, I feel like it's a lot more likely that it was at their own behest.
Chloe [Kelen Coleman] tells Asher that he’s no more an idiot than she is, which makes it sound like we’re not getting her full story. Should we be suspicious of her involvement? Might there be more than meets the eye with her?
For me, that moment is more about her caring for her brother. Part of his core being has always been about seeking approval from others. And this fear of being dumb, which a lot of times when people present in a way that feels very cocky, it's actually a response to feelings of inadequacy. So I think that it's a moment where she recognizes that maybe she pushed a little farther than she should. I actually kind of see it as like a nice moment of realization of her brother's humanity and really caring about his feelings. Because obviously we know that she's going to go and try to pick him up. But also do that with a little more care, unlike when she was trying to get him to go home to their mom or to sign the deal with the FBI. This time the only the only sort of motivation for her could possibly really be just wanting to make sure that her brother feels as good as he can, and [she] can take care of him a little bit emotionally in a very stressful time.
Asher’s check is now in Gabriel’s hands. What is going to happen to that 64k?
I don't quite know. Gabriel has a great collection of sneakers, so maybe some limited-edition sneakers. But hopefully it will be enough to get him by for some time. I feel like I trust that he has some good ways he could spend that. Maybe there's some activist organizations — the Black Lives Matter network? I trust him to spend that money wisely.
Bonnie seems to be mourning Asher slightly differently from Frank [Charlie Weber] and Annalise. She’s shaken by the fact that he’d never lied to her before that night. Might she have unresolved feelings for him?
I don't really know. It's hard to say. If we had done 12 seasons, I'm sure that something would come back around at some point, just given how it all goes. But probably even as a friend, the relationship was pretty strong where it could be. And she's mourning him in that way.
In some ways, I would say Asher was memorialized more than many of the characters who’ve died on the show previously. Was it touching to see them baking cookies in his honor and that final toast to Asher?
Yeah, it was. It was it felt really special. Giving Asher the time and the space in this episode to really say what he's about and to say his piece felt very cathartic to me. It was very touching and emotional to really think that these are the last words that Asher will speak to his friends and to the people he loves, through a video message. I'm just really grateful to really have the opportunity to explore his complexity and the difficulty of his choice. And really, at the end of the day, his heart and how much he cares about Michaela, Connor, and Oliver, and to really have that time to let it breathe. It felt to me like I was memorializing Asher in doing that, which felt like a beautiful way to end six seasons of a show. It's been an incredible ride.
How tough was it filming that final video message? Was it very emotional?
Yeah. I was focused on how to do it justice, as an actor and a performer, and that was my prime focus. Then, saying some goodbyes, and also to be honest, not knowing if I was going to come back or not — for flashbacks, obviously, not because Asher is still alive. The scene itself is really emotional. That definitely bled over into real life and to having to say some goodbyes to some of the amazing crew that's been around and worked so hard on the show for so long. It was definitely a bittersweet moment.
Were you actually filming yourself on a phone?
If I remember correctly, we were both filming it on the phone and they were filming me at the same time on the other camera. I expected to feel a little more challenged by looking at myself when I was acting. But actually, because it felt very in line with what was happening, it felt right.
Do you think Asher’s words are true, that Connor, Michaela, and Oliver have simply lost who they are and still have good in them?
I suppose it depends on your philosophy of the world. I personally believe that all human beings have the possibility of redemption. Much of my social justice politics really centers around that. [I am] an activist who is a prison abolitionist. It's this this idea that prisons and jails are the places we put people who society has failed. And so with the right support, I do believe that people really can change. That is why definitely why I do the work that I do as an activist, a big part of it. I believe that, inherently, human beings want to be good and want to do good things. Many times people get away from that, but people finding their way back to that, ultimately, there's a great possibility in terms of their own salvation and our collective good as well.
That final video Asher makes is extremely emotional. Why do you think the FBI shared that with them? Is it a little manipulative?
I don't know the answer to that. But I imagine some degree of trying to perhaps throw off the people they're talking to and disrupt their mental state a little bit is definitely a familiar FBI tactic. So I wouldn't put it past them.
What does Gabriel and now the remaining three believing the FBI murdered Asher mean for them and their deal? I would imagine it will make them reconsider.
I think we're going to learn a lot about people in this period of time. The pressure is really on. I mean, it's been on for a long time, but it's a whole different level now. It's going to be really revealing to see the direction people take.
If Asher had lived, can you imagine an alternate ending to this story? Like, do you think he would’ve ended up with Michaela?
I'm always really interested in the human potential of transformation. Asher the character we've seen grow so much over the course of over these six seasons. I would have loved to see real deep healing from him, and frankly, from a lot of other characters too. To see what that could look like in therapy or really contending with what they've done and the impact that that had on their lives and the lives of other people. But you know, the show is How to Get Away With Murder, so not really a happy ending there.
How much more of you will we see in the final four episodes in flashbacks?
This was the end of Asher. We actually we did shoot a scene for the final episode that ended up not making the cut, so yeah, this will be the final time you see Asher on screen.