Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season 2 finale of How to Get Away with Murder. Read at your own risk!
How to Get Away with Murder went out with a bang… literally.
After briefly running away from her problems, Annalise (Viola Davis) came back with a plan. Thanks to Phillip (Jefferson White), she was able to prove Caleb (Kendrick Sampson) actually murdered the Hapstall parents, which cleared the Keating Five of any wrongdoing in that video, but also led Caleb to kill himself.
Unfortunately, the truth did not set everyone free. As revealed via flashback, Frank (Charlie Weber) was seduced by a woman working for Wallace Mahoney (Adam Arkin) to get a mistrial by bugging Annalise’s hotel room. When Mahoney learned Annalise was going to the police, he basically put a hit out on her — hence the car accident that claimed the life of Annalise’s unborn child. Frank came clean to Sam (Tom Verica), who kept his betrayal a secret. That’s actually the favor Frank owed him, therefore leading to the death of Lila. When Annalise learns the truth in the present, she tells Bonnie that Frank has to go, though he’s already done so on his own.
In the end, Wes (Alfred Enoch) decides to confront his birth father in New York, but just as he professes his lineage, someone mysterious shoots Wallace dead. Could it have been an angry Frank? EW turned to executive producer Pete Nowalk to get the scoop on season 3. (Stay tuned for our full recap and read our interview with Charlie Weber on Frank’s disappearance here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you land on killing off Wallace and Caleb in the season finale?
PETE NOWALK: With Caleb, I just believed that for his character, that would be something that he would do. Once it all came out, he had run long enough, so killing himself felt just very real. The Wallace thing, he got shot, it just came at the last-minute type of thing. I think it just sets me up for the next season in a really good way. I already have many theories about what happened. It was a really good question mark. I loved that it was a very emotional moment. You think Wes was going to meet his father, and it’s now too late.
Caleb apparently slit his wrists. Do we actually believe that or should we question it?
You have to question everything you don’t see on the show. I personally, right now, think he killed himself. That was a case of the season. I don’t know whether we’ll be revisiting the Hapstalls next year. It’s possible.
Frank mysteriously disappeared. We knew he was angry with Wallace over his role in what happened to Annalise. Could he be to blame for killing Wallace?
For sure. From what we saw, Frank was finding out that Wallace was Wes’ father in the finale. Once Laurel (Karla Souza) told him, I think it was information he was getting in that moment. Say what you will why he would do that, but I think that definitely would make sense.
Did you always know that was the favor Frank owed Sam?
I knew going into this season. What I loved was this idea that Frank killed Annalise’s baby, in his own way. That is something that connected all of our characters and just felt very real to me about what secret Frank and Sam owed each other. Of course it had to be about Annalise. I believe that Sam would not want Annalise to know that. In his own way, he was protecting her from anger. Sam actually thought he was doing the right thing by not telling her that Frank had a role in it.
Who do you think Frank is when he’s not with Annalise? Do you see him falling off the wagon?
Yes, I can see the three-piece suits and the hair product all falling apart. It’s more what Frank feels about himself. Annalise gave him some self esteem and gave him a place in the world. Without that, does he go on a bender and become a drug addict, or become a career criminal? Does he hate himself to the point where he’s going to self-destruct? All of that is going to be really fun to see.
How will coming so close to knowing his father and losing out on the opportunity affect Wes?
Poor Wes. He never catches a break. His life is actually just full of tragedy. In a way, it’s very similar to Annalise. Neither of them can really catch a break. He can react in many different ways. We have not written season 3, but for me, he’s not the puppy anymore. He’s much more mature and complicated. Maybe he’ll be happy his dad is dead. Anything is possible.
Will Wes be a suspect in Wallace’s death having been there right when it happened?
I don’t know. That’s definitely a possibility.
Will the investigation into Wallace’s death be what you plan to explore when the show returns?
Honestly, I don’t know. We don’t know who Wallace was yelling at on the phone. He’s obviously a hedge fund manager. His son was accused of murder many years before. We still don’t know what happened with that case. There’s a whole mystery box of things involving Wallace that we might solve in one episode, or we might decide to investigate over many episodes. I’m not sure yet.
Will Adam Arkin be back for more flashback stories next season?
I would love to have Adam Arkin back. It’s like with Famke [Janssen], they’re such busy, wanted actors that we have to work around their schedule, but I would hope that we do.
When Annalise said Frank has to go, did she just mean leave the firm or did she want Bonnie (Liza Weil) to kill him?
The line is deliberately written to mean what you want it to mean. This is a huge betrayal. Annalise is finding out that Frank killed her baby. As far as we know, Annalise has never killed anyone, so when she says Frank needs to go, it’s deep and dark.
Could Annalise ever trust Frank again? Is Frank potentially killing Wallace his first step toward earning Annalise’s trust back?
It definitely could be. Again, those are all questions I can’t really answer, but Frank has two choices: To run away and hope she never catches him, just to cut bait; or he can try to win his way back. That’s a long road.
If you had to choose someone from the Keating Five right now, who do you think would fill the void left by Frank?
They could each do it in their own way. There’s also Nate (Billy Brown), by the way, who could do it. But I don’t know if anyone can actually replace Frank, because he was a very specific role in Annalise’s life. The fact that she had such control over him — obviously she didn’t know where that came from — but that he’s willing to do any bad thing for her, I don’t know if anyone else in the firm would go as far as Frank did. Hard shoes to fill.
Do you know if next season will be picking up with a time jump? Is it the start of a new semester? New school year?
I have no idea, but I want to make it surprising. I’m just beginning to think about all that stuff.
I’m curious at what point does Annalise maybe bring new students into her circle? Or are the Keating Five intrinsically tied to her at this point?
The good thing about the show is it doesn’t have to follow any formula. If we were doing every year she gets five new students, that’s not a show I would want to watch. I love these characters, and I also don’t believe it — I don’t believe Annalise is just going to kick these coconspirators out of her life. I think they’re tied to each other for life. The question is: Does she still want to teach at Middleton? Do they still want to be lawyers? Everything is up for grabs. I wouldn’t assume we’re going to follow any structure or that we have to for the show. Annalise could pack up and move to Iceland. Those are things that, as a creator just trying to keep things fresh, all options are possible.
Do you think Frank’s void provides an opportunity to rotate in new people? Maybe Annalise will consider hiring Oliver (Conrad Ricamora)?
I feel like Oliver is pretty much working for her. No, I don’t think we get rid of one person and we can slot in another. The question is: What does she even want her life to look like anymore? Does she want a Frank in her life? Look at what happened the last time. Can she trust anyone? Does she just have to be her own machine? The show, we’ll always want to introduce new characters, but I’m really tied to the ones we have as well. We don’t know so much about any of them. We know nothing about Michaela (Aja Naomi King) or Connor’s (Jack Falahee) families. Laurel, obviously, there’s a big mystery there. I want to really give people more character. Hopefully everyone will like that.
You mentioned Laurel’s family yet again in the finale. Are you finally planning to explore that in season 3?
Yes. I feel like it’s very present. The promise of our show is that we won’t dangle things out too long. The likelihood is yes. We’ve raised that question too many times not to answer it sooner than later.
Is Laurel the type of person to try to find Frank?
She’s definitely the type to be concerned about him. She went to his apartment because she still has love for him. She feels like she shouldn’t love him, but head versus heart. She still ended up going to his apartment. The look on her face when she found out he left was one of sadness and concern. He’s definitely going to be very present on her mind.
What can you tease of where Wes and Laurel’s relationship goes next? Will they try to make something work?
What I love now is they both really have terrible fathers, and are very bonded in that area. It’s possible that they’ll come together romantically or not. The characters are both wondering what they want. Everyone wants to be healthy, and probably not to be incestuous with each other. But I don’t think young people always make the right choice. I see why people can have violent reactions, because they’re like, “But they’re not romantic!” But in life, that happens all the time. Believe me, I’ve had friends get together that I’m like, “What? No! You’re like brothers! You’re like gay friends, and then you’re suddenly having sex!” I get the reactions people have, but I think it’s real, especially with the circumstances our characters are under; how much stress they’re under, they’ll look to each other in intimate ways.
Michaela and Asher (Matt McGorry) started to hook up again, but she stopped it because she was worried about Caleb. Will what happened now change her mind and she might consider giving Asher a chance?
What I think is really fascinating to me is that Asher for both Bonnie, and now maybe Michaela, becomes the healthy choice. Both of them have been really screwed over by men. There’s something very vulnerable about Asher. You know exactly who he is. He doesn’t seem to hide his emotions, and I think he really loves women, and is affectionate. He’s probably actually very good in bed. It makes a lot of sense that he would be a security blanket. For me, the question is: What does Michaela want? She has ended up with really vapid guys. She needs to really look in herself and see if she wants to be in a relationship and what kind of relationship that is. We have so much to explore with her. Aja is so talented. I’m just excited to really delve into her personal life next year.
Asher thought his father was killed. Will you come back to that storyline?
Yes, it’s possible that we come back to that. At this point, Asher really wanted to believe that his father was killed, because then killing Emily Sinclair was more justified. He’s now in a place where he’s trying to move on from that and accept the reality that he committed suicide.
Is the investigation into Emily Sinclair’s death closed?
Oy. Right now, in my head, I’ll say yes. I’ve said things like this before. Right now, yes. Lila’s death, Emily Sinclair’s death, I think Annalise nipped all those problems in the bud. There’s always going to be risks of things coming back to haunt them, but for me, I think that’s case closed. But I can take it back. You won’t hold it against me if I take it back.
How is Bonnie dealing without Frank there? Does she need to step up?
Bonnie can handle anything emotionally. In many ways, I think she’s even tougher than anyone on the show. She definitely had the darkest of backstories. She really was the daughter trying to make mom forgive son at the end of the season. I love that. She’s the one that wants to keep the family together. She, the person who has been treated the worst by men, is telling Annalise to forgive Frank. She’s almost the mama bear trying to connect everyone. That’s what her role will be. In that, I would like to explore and show you guys more how her and Annalise met, and why Annalise and this family are so important to her.
Are Annalise and Nate finally heading into a season where they could potentially and freely be together?
That’s a possibility. I feel like we’ve shown that in the last two episodes. They fight, but they’ve really been happy together. They’re very adult and mature together. Him meeting her family was not planned, but Nate has now seen more of her childhood than Sam ever did. Annalise wants to trust him. Of course, she’s got some trust issues, because every man she’s known in her life has betrayed her. We’ll see if Nate is able to not betray her.
With Annalise getting a chance to say goodbye to her baby, do you think that will help her move on and maybe be happy for once?
Do you want to watch a show where Annalise is happy all the time? I don’t think that’s in the fabric of her character. I think Annalise deserves happiness, of course. What that looks like is going to be very different and up to us to make that feel real. That’s a great question: What is Annalise’s version of happiness? I don’t think it’s going to look like anyone else’s.
Why did Oliver turn down Stanford for Connor?
Oliver is sabotaging Connor’s chances of going to Stanford, which is very dark for Oliver. It’s pretty dark in general, so we’re going to have to find out why he would do that and what is his desperation to stay in Philadelphia. Why does he not want to move so badly? And, of course, will Connor find out that he did that?
Is it because he likes this danger?
Yes, and I think Oliver said that in some of the episodes. He doesn’t know what it is, but he’s just trying to live. His life was on one path, like all of them, they were just going to be boring people. He wants to not be boring.
Which of the characters, in particular, do you hope to bring to the forefront next season?
Obviously the back half of the season, we really focused on Wes. Michaela and Laurel, I’m really interested in. Connor, we don’t know much about his family either. All of them. It depends. We can’t tell them all at once. Take this ride with us, and some characters will be really present in some episodes, and some will have to have a smaller part. That’s up to us to balance it out right. What’s fun for me is I’m still discovering the things about them. I almost want to get back to work right away to do that.
How to Get Away with Murder is expected to return in the fall. Stay tuned for our full recap and read our interview with Charlie Weber on Frank’s disappearance here.