'How to Get Away With Murder' Creator on Killer Twists, Steamy Kisses and Annalise's Future

Showrunner Pete Nowalk talks with THR about what to expect from the second season of the ABC drama now that the killer has been revealed.
Mitchell Haaseth/ABC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season two premiere of ABC's How to Get Away With Murder.]

ABC's How to Get Away With Murder made good on its vow to reveal Rebecca's (Katie Findlay) killer in the season two premiere — and the killer is … Bonnie (Liza Weil).

Bonnie confesses to Annalise (Emmy winner Viola Davis) that she is the one who killed Rebecca — in a bid to protect Annalise and repay all the favors that her boss has done for her over the years. The Keating Five, still clueless about Rebecca's death, contact Eggs 911 — the mysterious person whom Rebecca contacted.

The premiere also introduced Eve (Famke Janssen), the Death Row attorney that Annalise told Nate (Billy Brown) to call last season — who now thinks Annalise and Nate worked together to kill Sam (Tom Verica). As it turns out, Annalise and Eve shared a romantic past. They were a couple in college and Eve still seems to have feelings for her ex, who broke up with her for Sam. Upset about Bonnie, Annalise flies to New York to visit Eve and begs her to take Nate's case. While Annalise stops short of telling Eve who killed Sam, Eve takes the case after making out with Annalise.

Asher (Matt McGorry), meanwhile, is now a mole for the ADA and freaks out because he tells the ADA that Eve came to the house. He pulls away from everyone — including love interest Bonnie, who is feeling neglected by everyone.

The Shonda Rhimes-produced series created by Pete Nowalk also set up a new case for season two about two adopted siblings — Caleb and Catherine — accused of murdering their parents. Annalise and the Keating Five manage to get the case after discrediting the duo's previous representation.

At the end of the episode — which like season one cuts back and forth in time — there's a flash forward to two months later. Viewers see Wes (Alfred Enoch) — who had been defiant with Annalise in present day — running outside the Hapstall siblings' mansion for his life as there is blood splattered everywhere and Annalise is revealed to have been shot in the stomach.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Nowalk to break down how the events of the premiere impact the rest of season two — and the series overall.

Someone shoots Annalise! How much of this season will be explaining why someone would attempt to kill her?

A lot of it will be leading up to that. It's a huge question: Who shot Annalise? There are a lot of people who would want to do that and we'll be telling that mystery, for sure, all season long.

Will we find out who shot Annalise this season? Is there a world in which Viola Davis isn't part of this show and Annalise dies?

Yes, we will find out who shot Annalise. I'm not going to answer the second question! (Laughs.) That's the point of the show, to make people wonder.

That's bold storytelling. Did ABC have any pushback on that?

No, the network has always been supportive. It's my job to come up with things that are exciting and make people want to watch the next episode. ABC has always been supportive of that. They want us to go big or go home.

Structurally, last season featured flashbacks to Murder Night. Will this season include flashbacks and the flash-forward to Annalise's shooting?

Yes to both. We're going to be jumping around because the show is about playing with time — and I like telling the story out of order. I want it to feel different. A lot of storytelling these days is just how to tell a story in what time. But it's always my goal that we tell things in a way that's satisfying and we give people answers as well as keep the story going.

Lila was killed. Sam was killed. Rebecca was killed. Annalise was shot. Will the series continue to be like a game of dominoes where each murder is covered up with another?

I think of it more like a mob show. That's what happens in a mob show and Annalise is a sort of a mobster in her own way. I think she's even a cooler mobster because she doesn't have a mob to back her up. The stakes get higher and higher with covering up the murder. That's very true to the story. Things are going to get more and more complicated. Things don't get less complicated as you cover up a murder; they just get more complicated.

Do you think the Keating Five could be Annalise's mob?

Yes! Usually a mob leader has a lot of power over their underlings and that's a theme we'll explore this season.

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Is there a scenario where the truth about Frank killing Lila, Bonnie killing Rebecca and the Keating Five killing Sam comes out?

For sure, it just depends who they come out to and whether the law can be enforced on those people. There are so many murders that happen in the world that don't get fully prosecuted because there's not enough evidence and we all think certain people did it but there's not enough evidence, money or prosecutors to make those crimes stick. That's why Annalise has to be a genius, she has to figure out ways to get out of it.

For the record: Rebecca is 100 percent dead and Bonnie is the one who killed her.

Yes! This isn't that type of show; we're not a ghost show. (Laughs.). If we show it, it means a certain thing. 

There are a lot of plates spinning. Aside from Sam's murder trial, is the investigation into Lila's death closed? Will Wes continue to investigate Rebecca's "disappearance"?

No case is closed within our group. It seems Frank is the only one that knows that he killed Lila, so there's a lot of people who can find out about that — as well as Rebecca. Wes thinks she's missing; Bonnie knows she's dead and now Annalise knows she's dead and who killed her; Frank knows she's dead. Part of the show is the fun of who figures out what, when.

Bonnie tells Rebecca that she's a good person who deserves a normal life. It's both comforting and chilling, as it seems like she's talking about herself and not Rebecca. How much more of her backstory will we learn this season? It was crazy how calm Bonnie was in killing Rebecca.

When we came up with Bonnie being Rebecca's killer, it felt real to her character and I felt it was a chance to explore her character. Annalise and Bonnie have a very bonded relationship and that was something we needed to start to explain. That's what made me so excited about revealing her as the killer: it opens up all these questions and a whole world into what Bonnie's backstory is. Yes, we will be telling more of that this season. I didn't know [much about Bonnie] when we started the character. I give credit to Liza for playing her in a certain way — there's so much nuance to how shut down she is. How loyal she is to Annalise; and her crush on Sam — where does that come from? All of her body language, all of her quiet rage inspired me. What's strange about it — I'm not going to tell you what book because I don't want to give anything away — but we both at the upfronts had been reading the same book, and were both going down the rabbit hole with this amazing novel that I will reveal once we've revealed more about Bonnie's backstory. Sometimes there's synergy that happens with the actors and the writers that you just can't predict.

How will Bonnie's role in Rebecca's death impact her place with Annalise? She did it to protect Annalise but at the same time, that's terrifying that someone you trust just killed for you.

Just killed for you and didn't tell you about it — what's that about? To me, that tells me that there's a lot of backstory between them that's extremely bonded. Why else would Bonnie take all the crap that Annalise deals at her? Why else would Annalise put up with Bonnie having such a relationship with Sam? That's interesting to me and that's where we're going. These women are so bonded that they can treat each other like a mother and daughter or two sisters would. The bond is that intense.

The Eve-Annalise twist was pretty surprising. Where did the idea for that story come from?

I was always wondering since we created the phone number that Nate was going to call, who is this person that Annalise trusts with all her secrets? In my head, it was nebulous. I believe Annalise isn't always as intense as she is on the show. There's a joy there and she's very intense and she's very formidable, but you can't always be that way. In order to be that charismatic, there has to be some happiness in there and I wondered what that looked like. Especially knowing where she came from and her more lower-class rural background. I wanted to understand what it was like to be at Harvard for Annalise. I saw the image of Eve. I believe that's why Annalise would go to therapy — because she was dealing with a lot at that point in her life and I felt like it was a fun, refreshing, believable energy.

Eve and Annalise have a romantic past — and Annalise has apparently used her in the past. How much of their time together in the past will we see? Were Annalise's feelings for Eve in law school real or was this a case of her using someone to her own advantage? And could she be using her again now? She manipulated her to take on Nate's case.

The question with everyone in Annalise's life is, "Are you giving me the real Annalise or are you manipulating me to get what you want?" That definitely applies to Eve; we don't know yet. Eve took Nate's case for whatever reason and Annalise is a very special figure in her life as well as Eve is to Annalise. So we'll see!

Why was it so important for Annalise to take on the siblings' murder trial?

Annalise loves her work. She lives through her work. She's a defense attorney and loves a high-profile case. When she says she wants to work on a case that doesn't involve a dead body in this house, I think that's the most honest thing she's said in the episode. She wants a distraction. She knows there's a stink on her in the world that she's a husband murderer and she wants to get out of that. She knows the best way to get out of that is to pass the attention to how good she is at her job. She sees the case as a challenge and it's her lifeblood.

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Yet she's shot in the living room at the Hapstall Estate. How will this case cross paths with everybody else who has it out for Annalise? It seems like everyone here has motive.

I definitely think everyone will be crossing paths with this case. They all still work for Annalise and this is her high-profile case — and it's not a short-term one. She needs to win this one. They're all invested in different ways.

Will Wes continue be defiant? He doesn't believe Annalise and doesn't seem to trust her at all.

Wes definitely feels like he grew up a ton in the year that the show has happened unfolded. Everything he said in the kitchen is true: he wants to forget about Rebecca — she broke his heart and left him, as far as Wes is concerned, and he wants to be done with her. He thinks he got played. He did awful things for love. He was a romantic and got burned. He's now stronger and more mature and at the same time cynical and jaded person.

The new puppy is pretty great.

He's a pit bull!

Connor (Jack Falahee) is adamant that he wants to be with Oliver (Conrad Ricamora). How will they be tested — especially now that they're living together?

It's going to be very typical of normal people who just move in with each other. Connor is taking this huge step and moving in with Oliver at this point — even without the HIV diagnosis, regardless of that, they haven't been together that long. They're not actually together together at this point, but he's doubling down on this relationship and that shows a sense of maturity and progressiveness. Oliver is scared because he has been left by Connor before and been betrayed, and right now he just needs someone he can trust. They're both just trying to do their best.

How much is this Connor trying to do the right thing? Can we believe what he's telling Oliver? Is he using Oliver as a distraction because the rest of his life is blowing up? Is he trying to will himself into this?

That's Oliver's question — and he's smart and knows Connor really well. That's a fear and we'll watch that develop. Whether this is the real Connor or idealized Connor. But it feels really good to believe that it's true.

The show could use a bit of brightness with them …

(Laughing.) You think?! I'm a romantic but I do hope that people see the romance in Eve and Annalise. We've seen Annalise be a bit negative about relationships since we met her, and Eve is a more romantic vibe. It just goes to show that everyone can be romantic and scared at the same time. 

Speaking of being scared, Eggs 911 is a big mystery and Michaela is engaging with this mystery person.

Eggs 911 is a big mystery: Who is it? Why the freak did she drunk test them? Is that smart in the end? We'll find that out soon.

What did you think of the premiere? Sound off in the comments section, below. 

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