'How to Get Away With Murder': Can the Keating Five Ever Really Go Home Again?

THR hit the ABC drama's Hollywood set to get the scoop on what to expect when the students head home for the holidays.
ABC/Mitchell Haaseth

How to Get Away With Murder is going home for the holidays.

It's the most wonderful time of the year for the students of Middleton Law School — well, for all of those who aren't currently involved in the investigation into the death, err, disappearance of their professor's husband.  

While the calendar just turned February, Thursday's How to Get Away With Murder finds the notorious Keating cabal returning from their holiday break. Was it the "Best Christmas Ever," as the episode title suggests? With the dastardly deeds of Murder Night still hanging over their heads, yuletide cheer seems in short supply as the students face their families for the first time since beginning law school.

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"[The writers] did a really good job showing snapshots into the families of each character and what their home lives look like and it's really fascinating," Jack Falahee (Connor) tells The Hollywood Reporter.

"You see a scene with Connor and his family and you see he's not doing well and it's sort of chalked up to the rigors and stressors of law school." Falahee adds of his struggling character's trip home. "You see these kids interact with their family and maybe feel like they can't talk to them about something very significant that has happened to them."

Of course, these visits home reveal much more than just each character's family affairs. "I think you see whether or not they have something to fall back on, if they have a plan B, and if they don't, well shit!"says explains Karla Souza, who plays the newly in-charge Laurel.

For Michaela (Aja Naomi King), that plan B may just involve her fiance, and the prenuptial she reluctantly signed. "At that moment when she was signing the prenup she knew she needed some allies, some real allies, and that's a powerful family that she could marry into that could be able to protect her," she says.

Two people who don't seem to have that family — or a plan B — to fall back onto are Keating disciple Wes (Alfred Enoch) and his maybe-murderer girlfriend Rebecca (Katie Findlay).

"It sort of juxtaposes Wes and Rebecca and the rest of the kids because you get to see everyone else go home," Findlay previews of the lovers' holiday hideaway. "Really you get a sense of the lack of home to go to with them. They have each other, they have an apartment, the heat's on."

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Wes and Rebecca may not be the only ones who don't go home as bro-tastic Asher (Matt McGorry) also finds himself in a complicated situation for the holidays. "[Asher] has a very strong moral compass and has essentially become estranged from his father for something his father did many, many years in the past," McGorry says, referring to a revelation about the elder Judge Millstone.

"Ultimately, [Asher] has a good heart," McGorry said. "Even if it's a douchey heart." Is it possible that douchey heart could land him back in the arms of one-night stand Bonnie (Liza Weil)? Although the feisty associate initially turned him down, Weil hasn't written the relationship off just yet.

"We've seen Asher have moments of being incredibly sweet and kind and I think if that gaze is put on Bonnie, she may be surprised her response to that," she says.

However, Charlie Weber, the man behind Bonnie's mysterious colleague Frank, the episode goes beyond the students' families at home to really delve into the co-dependent "family dynamic" of the entire Keating firm.

"You're going to see that we don't have anybody," he says. "And it's why we take our life there so seriously and I think it taps into the loyalty and with Frank almost this blind loyalty […] to the matriarch of [his] life."

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Series star Viola Davis (Annalise Keating) stressed the importance of the group's familial nature — and her place as matriarch — especially now that they've colluded together to dispose of her husband. "Those kids are basically her children and I think that she feels responsible in some way, keeping the ball rolling," Davis says of her "passionate and fervent" campaign to defend her students. "It's her way of fulfilling her end of the responsibility … and in her twisted way of logic, that is her way of protecting and showing love."

"You'll see more of where all of that is rooted from — that twisted sense of love and what it means to love and what it means to protect — that is rooted in a past where there was trauma," Davis added.

Could upcoming guest star Cicely Tyson be part of that past? Davis would only offer that the prolific actress is "breathtaking in the episode." "She is everything that I absolutely believed that she was when I was 7 years old and I saw An Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. She is just luminescent. I just think that people are going to be so moved by her performance in this," Davis said.

Excited to find out about what's waiting at home for these characters? Sound off in the comments below. How to Get Away With Murder airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Twitter: @NotPhelan