Rome Flynn breaks down Annalise's surprising How to Get Away With Murder decision
Warning: This article contains spoilers for How to Get Away With Murder season 6, episode 12, "Let's Hurt Him."
Annalise Keating is fighting for her life on How to Get Away With Murder. Literally. And that means some people are going to have to be thrown under the bus — but if you thought Gabriel would be one of them, you'd be wrong.
In Thursday's episode, "Let's Hurt Him," Gabriel (Rome Flynn) seemed like the obvious mark, having borne witness to Asher's (Matt McGorry) murder at the hands of FBI Agent Pollack (Deborah Levin). All Annalise (Viola Davis) had to do was reveal his findings, as recorded by Connor (Jack Falahee) and Michaela (Aja Naomi King) when Gabriel came to warn them. Yet, perhaps partly convinced by the pleadings of Gabriel's mother, Vivian (Marsha Stephanie Blake), she didn't.
As the case against Annalise ramped up, Tegan (Amirah Vann) doubled down on her efforts to represent her and let Annalise unleash her full fury against the justice system in a press conference. But Robert (Cas Anvar), Annalise's brief former flame, tried to get in on the process, all the while calling into question the true nature of Tegan's feelings for Annalise. Michaela and Connor wrestled with the reveal that they may have just made a deal with the devil, ultimately propelling them to come clean to Annalise about their turning traitor. She turned around and played tape of their confession in a hearing, including the bombshell accusation that the FBI killed Asher.
Meanwhile, Frank (Charlie Weber) managed to track down Xavier Castillo (Gerardo Celasco), getting some torturous revenge on his former captor. Things really got bad when Frank handed Xavier over to Nate (Billy Brown) to question him about the death of his father. Nate's temper once again got the better of him, seemingly leading him to murder Xavier with a snap of the neck.
While Michaela and Connor had to deal with the fallout from the tape recording revealing they believed they were coerced into a deal, Vivian had another secret for Annalise — it wasn't the FBI who started a war against her, it was Sam's sister Hannah (Marcia Gay Harden).
To learn more about why Annalise chose to protect Gabriel and what his family has to do with all these new secrets, we called up Flynn for some answers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Both Gabriel and Vivian seem to think he’s in danger. How concerned for his safety should we be?
ROME FLYNN: I think that we should be very concerned. I wouldn't say from a perspective of anything that I know, I would just say he's a young black man who has information that the FBI has killed someone. So in any terms, we should be afraid for his life. And he's gone to the K4 with this information, instead of going to Annalise right away. That was an interesting move on his part to do that, and it tells the story of his alliance. I feel like it's shifting, in a way. It used to to be more towards Annalise, and [now] I feel like he's teetering on the line of both of those groups.
He hasn’t always been the most trustworthy guy, but it seems pretty definitive he saw Pollack kill Asher. Is there a chance he’s lying?
I wouldn't say that he lied before. He just didn't give them information. For this particular thing, I wouldn't say he's lying about what he saw. Gabriel's a pretty intelligent guy. Although I would say you'd have to have some sort of super-sight to be able to see what he saw, but he did think he saw Laurel at first. The only person that came to mind was Laurel when he saw her hair. He hadn't seen her in a very long time; he could have forgotten her face or her features. Once he realized it was the FBI, I feel like like all the pieces kind of came together. Once he looked at the cases that they were building around Annalise and potentially what it could mean.
In your first scene of this episode, you mention Fred Hampton, the slain Black Panther leader. How much did you know about that going in, and do you hope that this encourages people to do a little more digging into things like that?
I was really surprised when I read that in the script. I was so excited, honestly. The story about Fred Hampton and the fact that they mentioned the FBI, it's just so deliberate and ballsy and just aligned with what How to Get Away With Murder has always been about, which is calling people out on their sh— and using the platform that ABC allows How to Get Away With Murder to do. Although [that scene is] not centered around me mentioning his name, mentioning it along the lines of what happened with the FBI just gives such credibility and validation to the people that that are close to him. Even if one person goes and Googles Fred Hampton, I feel like that will bring justice to this episode.
Why does Gabriel want to help Michaela and Connor? I mean, they did basically throw him out before.
Although he does not trust them to his own interest, they are probably the most intelligent people that he could run to with this kind of information to know what to do. Who would be better to run to about the FBI killing someone? I think that's partially why he went to them. And also, at the end of the day, Gabriel, his alliance is with what's right. The FBI killed Asher, and I feel like his own morals are more important to him than his his personal strife with people. He wants to bring the FBI down, and he's always been a voice of people who are disenfranchised. This is another part of his fight to bring light to that. He's been attacked by the FBI before already. It's a little close at home for him.
Vivian told Gabriel not to go to Hannah, but it seems like he did anyway. What was the appeal for him of meeting her?
It's just about this uncovering. I feel like Gabriel should have been a damn detective or an investigator or something because he just figures out how to get answers. His goal is just to figure out as much as he can about who he is. When he finds out about Hannah, it's a really big surprise for him. A part of him feels like this is another part of my chapter that I'm not aware of. There's just so much uncertainty about his life and the people that he's connected to. He thinks he can reach out to people that may know his dad or know more about him, then he can understand himself more. He's searching for answers.
Why is he still so consumed by finding the answers to Sam's death?
It goes back to his moral compass. It's not about vindictiveness, it's about what's right. What's right is that something was done wrong and those people need to be brought to justice. That's partially why he goes so hard at wanting to be a fantastic lawyer and be as intelligent as he is, because those things are important to him. And he wants to know, who f—ed him over? They tell him that they don't know anything, but he keeps finding out more information that they know. He feels like he's uncovering things slowly. Every time he gets discouraged, another gem pops up out of nowhere. That realigns him with his purpose that he needs to uncover what happened with Sam.
Gabriel has had an antagonistic relationship with Annalise. And yet, instead of using the tape of him insisting the FBI killed Asher, she uses the tape of Connor and Michaela. Why do you think she chooses to protect Gabriel?
Michaela and Connor have deals with the FBI. It makes more sense if it's credible from their standpoint, and because of the deal that they have that could be null and void. As opposed to me coming in and saying, "Hey, I know these things which are to be true," but would only put me in jeopardy and also could question my credibility. It's much easier not to question the credibility of the two witnesses who are on paper with the government. You're trying to discredit the witnesses, so that's what she did as a good lawyer, is to bring that to the forefront. But maybe a small part of her feels responsible for, not responsible in a way that she did anything wrong, but she didn't do much to prevent this idea of Gabriel being in danger with the FBI after having the evidence planted on him last season. Her fight is against the government, and it's against the FBI, and it's against Governor Birkhead. Her fight isn't it with Gabriel, and it just made more sense to put Michaela and Connor on the spot, as opposed to Gabriel.
Does he owe Annalise now? Is her choice going to come back to endanger or implicate him further?
I don't think this a ploy to get Gabriel in her pocket. I think that this is a conscious decision to try to make the right decision. I don't see why he would be useful to her in any way at all. Besides, it is a world where he could potentially take the stand. And I think that that's partially another reason why she could have done this is to show Gabriel like, "Look, I haven't gone to the FBI about you killing your mom's boyfriend." Just kind of building up this long-distance trust.
It seems like Vivian knows secrets about Hannah that have fueled this war against Annalise. Might Gabriel know some of them too, having met her, and can you hint at what they are?
It's a crazy plot twist, for sure. I know Gabriel finds out some things that only a few people know. He does find out something that is really big piece of a puzzle — not his puzzle, but just a big piece of another puzzle. It's a big reveal.
Now that he’s tried to look out for them, is there any chance Connor and Michaela welcome Gabriel back at some point?
Unfortunately, with the way the K4 are collectively, they agree with each other when they move forward on things. To hate Gabriel is something that they agreed on well before this season. If the fact that he came to them with this information doesn't shift their belief in Gabriel, I don't think anything will. They have bigger fish to fry, honestly. If Gabriel just goes away, I don't think they would care much.
What can you tease about next week?
We're coming towards the end. We start to see things coming together, and we start to finally see some of these questions answered. The second half of the season, there have been a lot of setup situations. Not a lot of revealing situations, but just reminding people about things that have happened. These next three [episodes] after this one, we are just running downhill. We got to the top and now we have to get back down, and it's gonna be full speed.