'How to Get Away With Murder': 8 Things to Know About Its Return

THR hits the set of ABC's breakout drama as the cast previews what to expect from the remainder of its freshman run.
ABC/Mitchell Haaseth

Murder Night has finally turned into day for Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and her accomplices students — and in the light, everything changes.

Following a brutal hiatus, How to Get Away With Murder and the rest of ABC's Shondaland TGIT lineup returns Thursday, and Peter Nowalk's freshman drama picks up right where November's midseason finale left off. The return finds the Keating Five struggling with the pressures of law school, finals and, oh yeah, killing their professor's adulterous husband and disposing of his body.

Could there be more to the story? Obviously. The Hollywood Reporter hit the set of ABC's breakout drama to catch up with the cast for a preview of what to expect from the freshman series' six remaining episodes.

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The show is moving forward — in time, that is.

After spending the first half of its freshman semester season flashing forward to its climactic Murder Night, the show is doing a mini-reboot, to hear series creator Nowalk tell it, and finally moving into the future. Although the midseason premiere, screened for the press, including THR, does flashback a bit — and reveals more about a certain character's involvement — the constant time shifts are over. "We don't pop back anymore," says Liza Weil (Bonnie). "There's just not as much poppy-poppy. We're caught up in time." Adds fellow Keating associate Charlie Weber (Frank): "[It] changes the tone to some degree."

However, the consequences of that night are here to stay.

The events of the Murder Night and the characters' actions that evening will have lasting consequences for everyone, though some will unravel more than others. "All of the sudden, everything is at risk, everything could be snatched away, everyone is fighting very hard to keep that, to keep their lives intact," says Alfred Enoch (Wes). Adds Weber, "Masks have come off of a lot of us and you just kind of get to see these people for what they are and what they do."

The lies and the secrets are pilling up.

Killing a man and covering it up is no easy task, as the guilty students will soon find out for themselves. "They've committed a murder, so that's not great, and they've all sort of fabricated lies to different people and it's sort of like a spider web," says Jack Falahee (Connor) says of the complicated mess the Keating Five find themselves in. "[There's] a lot of different things going on, a lot of different lies being told, [secrets] being kept from other people."

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People will have to assume new roles.

In the aftermath of Murder Night, everyone has changed. For Karla Souza's Laurel, it's all about taking control of the situation and stepping up to do what needs to be done. "I think they all grow up in [the midseason premiere]; they all become adults … because of what happened," she says. Of course that's not the only thing changing. "People who used to be in control … suddenly reverse and all the people who were tentative and, maybe, shy become the captains of the ship."

New alliances (and enemies) will form.

"The second half of the season is going to explore the alliances being made and enemies and how these relationships shift given that we've all sort of committed this murder together," Falahee explains. Not to mention that there are still members of the Keating team that don't know about the slaying yet — including Matt McGorry's Asher, his love interest, Bonnie as well as her colleague Frank.

Everyone is close to cracking.

When asked which character was most likely to break down or give in to the pressure of holding on to such a violent secret, the cast — like their characters — was divided. "I think we all have that potential and it shifts from week to week," says Weil, whose character still isn't on even footing with Annalise in the wake of her actions in winter finale. "That's really the interesting thing about these last episodes is that dynamic shifts from episode to episode and sometimes a few within an episode, and you think people are going have moments of completely losing it and shifting loyalty and then it's on somebody else."

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Even Annalise isn't immune from the pressure.

With all the stress and life-altering events on her plate, is Annalise heading for a breakdown of her own? The answer to that is a definitive yes, Davis says. "It's going to be gradual. You'll see it, it's coming," Davis teased of her character's journey in the next few episodes. The newly minted SAG Award winner added that she encouraged the writers to have the characters — including Annalise — reflect the show's increasing stakes. "I always say that a person acts their nature, not their morals," she says. "So often I see women on television, and they're either really sexually promiscuous or strong — because now we want to see the 'new' woman — but I don't really see the consequences a lot of times."

It's almost impossible to prepare for what's to come.

When tasked with describing the season's remaining episodes, the cast threw around words like "suspenseful," "dark" and "harrowing." Weber went so far to note that after one particular table read, "People were crying, there were mouths open. Shock, literally tears, to the point where some of us got phone calls to not freak out when we read the script." McGorry agreed. "I yelled a little bit. I looked at one specific person and was like [drops jaw] … one specific person makes things happen."

How to Get Away With Murder airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC. What are you looking forward to? Sound off in the comments section below, and come back to THR's The Live Feed after the episode for more from the cast.

Twitter: @NotPhelan