'How to Get Away With Murder' Creator Explains Killer Finale Twists

“This show is about people clinging to each other in very desperate and dark times,” Pete Nowalk tells THR.
Courtesy of Nicole Wilder/ABC

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

Heading into Thursday’s finale of How to Get Away With Murder, “Anna Mae,” there was plenty to resolve in order to wrap season two's mysteries while also setting things up for its previously announced third season.

As Annalise (Viola Davis) returned home to hide and heal from Frank’s (Charlie Weber) admission that he killed Lila (Megan West), viewers finally learned the truth about why Frank owed Sam (Tom Verica) that favor and his part in helping to “kill” Annalise’s baby.

Meanwhile, Caleb (Kendrick Sampson) was unmasked as the killer when he turned on Annalise, leading Phillip (Jefferson White) to resurface and Catherine (Amy Okuda) to recant her previous alibi. It all wrapped up with a nice and tidy little bow — until the closing few minutes when Frank went missing and Wes (Alfred Enoch) confronted his father Wallace (Adam Arkin), only to watch the mogul’s head be blown off by an unknown assailant right in front of him.

That still left plenty of time for Michaela (Aja Naomi King) and Asher (Matt McGorry) to almost hook up again, Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) to betray Connor (Jack Falahee) by deleting his Stanford acceptance letter, and for Bonnie (Liza Weil) to receive another cryptic order from Annalise.

To break down some of the finale’s more shocking plot twists, preview what could possibly be in store for season three and reveal whether Wes will ever catch a break, THR turned to series creator and showrunner Pete Nowalk.  

At what point did these stories come together for you in the finale?

The big question we left last season with was: Why did Frank kill Lila (Megan West)? Coming into this season, it was over the hiatus that I basically knew it had to be about something about Annalise. The secret that Sam and Frank were sharing had to relate back to her. That’s where the pregnancy storyline came in. I just knew that Frank, in some way, murdered Annalise’s baby. That was really the starting point. I thought it was so tragic — he was so young and stupid and he made a really big mistake, which I get. It’s a lot of money, he was young and he didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. He definitely didn’t think it would end up in her losing her baby. That last scene with Sam and Frank is heartbreaking to me because you see that Frank is just such a little boy who did something really bad and there’s no taking it back.

What about the Wes-Wallace reveal of their being related?

We didn’t figure that out until after our midseason finale, where Annalise said “Kristophe.” We didn’t know what that meant. We knew that Annalise was involved with Wes’ mother, but all of that just was a ton of work for us. We pitched every single idea but what was exciting for us about that is that it just really made sense why Annalise would want to protect him so much. He’s the byproduct of a rape, which is one of the most haunting and horrible things that Wes could find out about himself and his mother. And Annalise is obviously a survivor herself. That’s why she has that connection with Bonnie and why she’s always trying to protect her. It’s the same thing with Wes and why Annalise would go so far to protect him. It just made emotional sense.

Is the Wallace murder and who did it a key point in the third season?

We don’t go back to working on the third season until May, but Wes’ childhood and who his father is — that's a major part of his life. So whether it’s something that we answer quickly, like who killed Rebecca (Katie Findlay) in the premiere, or the version where we extend it … I haven’t decided that yet. 

Should viewers assume it was Frank avenging Annalise’s baby at this point?

I don’t want to leave anyone with anything — everyone’s going to have different theories and that’s sort of the point for me. I’m happy for more theories because that just means people are engaged and that’s all I want. 

Does this implicate Wes in another murder?

The police are going to ask why he has that blood on him. But we don’t know what’s going to happen after that moment, honestly. And I don’t know either. I’ll say the guy has been through a lot and I would like to see him get a little bit of a break eventually.

Did Annalise mean murder when she told Bonnie that Frank had to go?

That’s up to interpretation and another thing we’ll clarify next season. Annalise has never felt more betrayed and angry. What’s so lovely about that line is I had no idea how Viola would perform it and her performance tells me everything I need to know. The ambiguity is appealing to me.

Is the hope to explore more of Annalise’s familial relationships next season?

Of course. Her family, whether she wants to believe it or not, is a really important part of her life and there are a lot of unresolved things there — especially after that scene with her father. And there’s always stuff with her mother. We’re at a point in her life where she may reconsider connecting with her family. We’ll see how that goes, but I’m definitely excited about exploring that more.

Where did the family visit leave Annalise and Nate (Billy Brown) — could viewers meet his family too next season?

I’m happy if people picked up on that line, “Just wait until you meet my family.” The question between Nate and Annalise is can they recover from all the baggage? In this episode it really looks like they can, that they can almost function like a couple … one that can love each other and kiss each other under the moonlight in a normal way. Are they both able to be invested in each other and can they trust each other? That’s one relationship we can explore more, we’re just starting to understand why they connect with each other. I’m hoping to make that all a big storyline next season.

Now that Annalise knows her baby’s death wasn’t her fault is there a chance she'll lighten up?

I went into this season wanting to see Annalise be happy and show more parts of her personality, but clearly we went in a very dark direction. It’s always possible but Annalise is who she is. The show is what it is. We get moments of lightness from her already, I just want to stay true to the character and the real horrible stakes that she’s living in make it hard to find her just giggling about a joke.

Are the books closed on the Wes/Laurel (Karla Souza) and Asher/Michaela romances now that they’ve both been semi shut down?

I’m definitely open to the possibility of what those characters can offer each other and also whether there will be new pairings that we don’t know about yet. The show isn’t about romance; it’s about people clinging to each other in very desperate and dark times. These are young people who are very attractive, so I believe they’re all going to do things that might seem shocking to normal people but to them it’s not that big of a deal because … well they’re murderers.

Oliver hasn’t murdered anyone, but was deleting that Stanford acceptance letter correlated to the fact that he’s hanging out with these people?

Definitely, it’s almost Connor’s worst nightmare — his darkness rubbing off on the angel that is Oliver. Or is that just who Oliver has been all along and he’s just been faking his way through life? I get Oliver. I get wanting to have a more exciting life. These are two guys who are very young and are only just starting to really know each other and know themselves so anything is possible between the two of them.

Was Caleb always the murderer in your books and could any of those other characters resurface in season three?

No. That is something we went back and forth with a million times and it just felt like the best answer as we came up to it. Not having come up with anything for season three it’s always possible we revisit some of those characters. But when we created the storyline we did it for this season. I don’t know who’s going to want to have something to do with any of those characters anymore. Right now it’s something I think we’ll move on from.

How to Get Away With Murder will return to ABC next season. What did you think of the finale? Sound off in the comments below.

Twitter: @amber_dowling