Post Mortems

HTGAWM EP Talks Annalise-Wes Mystery — Plus: Will Oliver Die?

“He’s not just some student. It’s him.”

Annalise’s confession about her protective relationship with student Wes was the blazingest (and most engmatic) in a series of big burning questions raised during Thursday’s episode of How to Get Away With Murder.

And while creator/showrunner Pete Nowalk isn’t ready to share why exactly that statement made Annalise’s on-and-off lover Eve call her “a very good person,” he is offering a possible timeline for answers — plus some dire warnings about other threads left loose at the end of the hour.

For starters, just because everyone loves Oliver doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily survive whatever happens after he discovers creepy Philip has snuck into his apartment. And as for Laurel’s face-off with Annalise, well, Nowalk’s got an observation about it that you might find hard to believe.

Read on to get the inside skinny on “I Want You to Die” and some teases about what’s to come heading into the Nov. 19 fall finale.

TVLINE | Can you say definitively that Bonnie is the one who kills Emily Sinclair? You didn’t show her pushing the ADA off the balcony — we just saw her standing up there after the body went splat, so I am hesitant to make any assumptions.
I’m not telling you either way. It’s definitely possibly true. [Laughs] We’ve trained you well: Never make assumptions on Murder.

CONRAD RICAMORATVLINE | Oliver ended this episode in a very precarious situation — which is especially upsetting since he’s so sweet, and one of the few characters on this show without blood on his hands. Is it possible Philip’s, “Hi, Oliver, how’s your night going?” shouldn’t be causing all of us to panic? Maybe he’s just stopping by to figure out what’s going on?
Oh, you’re so cute in how you ask these questions! [Laughs] I mean, Philip follows him into his house uninvited — that would cause me a lot of panic, and panic is the right word for how Oliver feels, too.

TVLINE | Is Oliver a character you’d ever consider killing off? The sweetest relationship right now is the one he has with Connor — and it would just be a heartbreaker if you went there.
[Laughs] We consider every option in the writer’s room. That’s our job. We consider killing every character if it’s necessary to the story, unfortunately. Believe me it pains us just as much as it pains everyone else, but it’s part of the process. I do feel like Oliver is the person the audience identifies with the most. He’s the most human and has lived his life the way most of us do — which is not around murders. So, I get why people are projecting on his and wanting him to have a good life.

TVLINE | When you created the character of Oliver, did you ever think he’d be this significant to the story?
No, never. I wrote two little scenes in the pilot and I watched a bunch of auditions on tape. We were in Philadelphia and so they sent us some actors from New York, because they could work locally. And I remember there were all these great choices, but Conrad [Ricamora] just jumped out. He was really good in those scenes, and a few months later, as we’re making the show, it’s like, “Maybe we should bring him back: They had a fun dynamic!” And now look where we are. We stumbled upon an amazing actor and a great chemistry with Connor. But it was never my intention to have Connor fall in love with the first person we had him date. That’s why TV is fun to write.

VIOLA DAVIS, FAMKE JANSSENTVLINE | Let’s talk about Eve and Annalise’s big scene: Eve figuring out that Wes is the one Annalise is protecting in the case of Sam’s murder, and Annalise countering with, “It’s him.” What did she mean by that? Is he her son? Is he the son of a client? Is he a more distant relative? And does that mean we have to cross out the idea Annalise is interested in him sexually?
Obviously, Eve and Annalise have a secret. And bringing Famke [Janssen] back — with all the history between them — I really wanted Eve to know something about Annalise that nobody else did. It’s one of the questions I get the most. “Why does Annalise connect to Wes? What’s the deal there?” At this point we have to start to inch toward the answer. I know it’s frustrating to watch TV and not know certain things. But while that line doesn’t tell you a lot, it tells you you should pay attention — and we’ll give you an answer soon.

TVLINE | Will we have an answer about Wes and Annalise’s connection by the end of Season 2?
Since the whole season’s not written, I can’t promise anything. But we will provide more answers than you got in this episode — for sure. It’s not our goal to frustrate people; it’s our goal to intrigue people. And part of that intrigue is giving you answers.

TVLINE | Did you know what the Annalise-Wes relationship was going to be from the minute you conceived this show? Or were you hesitant to lock that idea in too early? I do feel like theirs is the most mysterious relationship on the show.
I’d love to say yes, I knew exactly what was going to be between them, but that would be a lie. It’s a thing where you watch and react. I remember in the pilot, when Viola was scolding him in the lecture hall, she brought so much more of a feeling of care in her eyes than I’d pictured, and it grew out of there. They’re one of the central relationships — if not the central relationship — so I watch how they play it, I watch how much she protects him, and in some ways I’m following the story like the rest of you. And I’m really excited about what we’ve come up with: It feels very true and real and interesting. But I did not plan any of it.

ALFRED ENOCHTVLINE | Can you tell me if Wes somehow knows something more about Annalise — or whatever their connection is — than we’ve been made aware?
I can’t answer that, but it’s a great question. Why do Bonnie and Clyde get together? That was romantic, obviously, but there’s a lot more going on between Wes and Annalise than either of them understand. They’re two characters that found each other at the exact right time, and they need each other. Whether or not that’s healthy, they both feel a pull toward each other.

TVLINE | The other bombshell this week was Bonnie and Annalise’s fight — Bonnie’s belief that she was a card that Annalise traded — and then Bonnie saying she wishes Annalise had died, not Sam.
People may not understand this, but Annalise has these deep relationships with people where there’s obviously angst, but also a really deep well of emotion. Bonnie and she have all this history, and this real muck together that bonds them. They really identify with each other and that’s why they’re so twistedly bonded. Annalise believes she’s saved Bonnie — and Bonnie has said that to her, too. They have a shared history of abuse as children. So here is Annalise thinking, “After all we’ve been through, how dare you accuse me of not loving you?”

They’re in the darkest part of their relationship. They’ve known each other a long time — we’ll [eventually] reveal how long — and for most of their relationship, it was really good. We’re meeting them when years and years of resentment, history and baggage are bubbling up to the surface and bursting out of them. I mean, marriages die in a day, so it’s certainly possible that their mother-daughter relationship — or whatever you want to call it — could implode in a second.

TVLINE | It felt like Laurel won the ultimate trophy this week with Annalise saying she doesn’t have to check on her because she knows Laurel can handle herself — before, of course, snapping, “Go back to the office and stop being needy!” In a lot of ways, Laurel has been the most quiet character, and now she’s starting to get super interesting.
Yes! I love that. The concept for Laurel — and Karla was really patient with me, because she’s a big move star in Mexico — is that she’s underestimated. So many people go through life feeling that way. That was the first scene Karla ever had alone with Viola — and that’s shocking to me. Everyone else has had that. But that was always the intenion: Laurel gets her strength from a very specific place in her backstory. And I think Annalise really meant that when she said “I don’t have to pay attention to you, which is what I love about you.” [Laughs] A lot of the good children are the ones that get ignored by their mother or their teacher or whoever.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. David4 says:

    If Oliver dies so does a little part of my heart. Love that guy.

    • Larc says:

      I guess we have to remember that bad things happen to good people. All the same, it should be somebody else if they feel they need to kill off an integral character. I vote for Frank!

    • Angela says:

      Yes. I will be so sad if that happens.
      I like how it seems a lot of these particular connections between characters just kind of developed, instead of something that was actively planned and written out. Shows the strength of the cast that they can take what could otherwise be totally innocuous interaction and turn it into this weird, twisted, intriguing, mysterious thing. I’m definitely very interested to see just what the deal is with Annalise and Wes, and I really like the idea that Eve’s in on whatever her secret is regarding that. Given their closeness, that just makes sense.
      And I want Annalise and Bonnie to keep interacting, too, because their scenes together are always so good! But I certainly won’t blame either of them for any distance that results from their recent blowout. And so long as Eve stays in the picture, I keep wondering how Bonnie will react to that.
      Did not know Karla was a big star in Mexico. That’s rather neat (and explains a bit about her Spanish-speaking skills) :D. But yeah, it’s been cool to see Laurel really coming out strong. I’m all for seeing where else they can take that character.
      Good interview! Agh, I cannot wait for the fall finale. It sounds like it’s going to be nuts!

      • Jana says:

        Well, Karla Souza (as well as her character Laurel Castillo) are Latina. Karla was born in Mexico City to two Latino parents. So her Spanish isn’t a skill – it was likely her primary language.

        • Angela says:

          Ah, I meant to say that Karla’s background explains her character Laurel’s Spanish-speaking skills. Should’ve clarified that sooner, though, sorry :p.

    • David says:

      Same here. He is such a sweetheart. And I love his relationship with Connor.

  2. LC says:

    Pretty sure Oliver’s not gonna die. Jack Falahee and Conrad Ricamora tweeted about shooting a sex scene after the airing of episode 3, which contained the last one they had. So unless it’s a flashback (seems unlikely because that’d be random), Oliver will be just fine.

  3. I do love me some of the crazy storytelling this show goes for, and I’m pretty much willing to suspend my disbelief and enjoy the ride. HOWEVER…I do draw the line at killing Oliver. If that happened, I might have to grab my pitchfork and march on the studio’s headquarters. :) But I am going to hold on to my belief the writers would not make him HIV + and THEN kill him. I do fear how this will all end for everyone though. It would be amazing if everyone escapes from this show alive and not in jail, and that probably won’t happen. But I do hope that the Connor/Oliver relationship makes it to the end.

  4. joe says:

    I’m rarely a viewer that says “I’ll stop watching if X happened” but it may be so if Oliver is killed off. Though I can cite many reasons why, a primary factor would be what I consider lack of follow through on the writers part. Why give Oliver HIV and then talk about they planned on showing the real life aspects of a person living with HIV in 2015, if the plan is to just kill them off. That’s lazy story telling.

  5. pecola says:

    So here’s my theory about what “it’s him” means:

    Prior to the start of Nate’s probable cause hearing for Sam’s murder, the ADA objected to Eve representing him on the grounds that she had a preexisting, undisclosed relationship with Annalise. Responding to Sinclair’s charges, Eve admits they were acquaintances in law school and that they worked together on a federal case 10 years ago. I think Wes’ mom was that federal case.

    Last season we learned that Wes was 12 when his mother committed suicide…so the dates work out…and it’d explain how Eve knows the secret, despite having been estranged from Annalise for so long.

    • Chelsey says:

      I like this theory. I’m not sure I’m buying she is his mother. Plus when Eve says “you’re a really good person” for looking out for Wes, it would make more sense for it to be something other than a mother-son. If she’s protecting her son, that’s something most mothers would do.

    • darkpaintedruse says:

      I agree. Also, a few episodes ago Wes said something about his mom bringing him to the U.S. so it had to be an immigration trial or something.

    • David says:

      I think you are onto something. Great theory Percola. I’ll be watching for clues. :)

  6. MFL says:

    If they feel the need to kill someone it should be Micheala…She is the hardest character to connect with and root for since season 1.
    I may be the only one who is not a COliver fan. I feel like Oliver unintentionally guilt-ed Connor into being with him. Oliver’s extreme esteem issues, always pointing out that Connor’s way too hot to love a guy like him & then come the story about how he contracted HIV. It seems as if Connor has to somehow be less so that Oliver can feel more & worthy…

    • Jbj says:

      It probably says a lot about me, but I don’t find Michaela so unrelateable. The reveal that she was adopted helped clarify some of her issues, but even before that it was clear to me that her rigidity is a side effect from internalizing a lot of negative stereotypes of black women. She doesn’t want to be associated with them, so she goes to the opposite extreme. The fact that black children are often adopted at lower rates makes me wonder if at some point in her childhood she determined that she had to be perfect to be wanted and loved. Ultimately, that backfired on her because people instead see her as too cold to be lovable.

      • Angela says:

        I love this analysis of her character. Makes a lot of sense to me.
        I like Michaela. Always have. I’d love for the show to continue delving deeper into her character over time, too, because I agree there’s a lot to her past that would be worth exploring further.

    • Ligaya says:

      Completely disagree with your analysis of Oliver & Connor’s relationship. Their relationship has made Connor more – not less.

  7. ? says:

    Laurel’s been one of (if not THE) most interesting characters on the show for a while now. At least I think so. One of the only ones whose behavior and reactions to events consistently surprises me without feeling like a lack of identity for the character.

  8. Khadina says:

    I can’t believe we only getting eight episodes. Is it coming back with another six or seven before summer

    • Larc says:

      Yes. HTGAWM will be taking a winter hiatus like a number of other shows. It should return in January or February at latest. Networks apparently can’t afford enough episodes to fill a complete season anymore. I could understand taking off Thanksgiving through New Years, but these things too often last longer than that.

      • herman1959 says:

        The 15-episode season for this show was a requirement of the star, Viola Davis. The network decided to do it with a break mid-season like a lot of other ABC dramas.

    • Matt C. says:

      Episode 9 is the midseason finale. Then it’ll be back in January for the remaining 6 episodes. Just like in season 1.

  9. Keith says:

    Please don’t kill Oliver off !

  10. Matt C. says:

    I find the “Coliver” relationship extremely overrated. I liked Connor a lot more in early season 1, before he settled down with Oliver and his whole character changed. I understand it’s character development, but I just personally don’t care for it. If the show killed Oliver off, I think that would do wonders for Connor’s storyline.

  11. Tomy says:

    I had a theory I posted last night. But clearly, it didn’t go through. So to make a long story short, I wonder if Wes is Annalise’s nephew. I don’t recall if it was stated if she had a sister or not (it might have when her mother came to visit). But if Wes’ mother was her sister, maybe she too suffered abuse at the hands of Uncle Clyde and that led to her getting to the point of commiting suicide.

    By the way (and I’m sure those who watch way more TV than I do probably differ in opinion), I think HTGAWM, right now, is the best show on network TV at least.

    • annalise’s mom mentionned she had sibblings… funny that the EP never planned this relationship even though since the first episode of the show the dynamic between annalise and wes is very central to allthe events…

  12. Nohely says:

    I hope we get a S3 because this show is just too good.

  13. Sabrina says:

    Great interview. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season plays out.

  14. Joey says:

    “I’d love to say yes, I knew exactly what was going to be between them, but that would be a lie.”

    Why can’t all showrunners actually tell the truth about things like this?

    • Eran says:

      If you had ever written anything long term for television, Joey, you would know in a heart beat that he was telling the truth. Often, even show creators don’t fully know the world they’ve created. The further you are into a series and its world, the more you see and learn about it, and the more your perspective and creative decisions change as a result. That’s not to say they’ll always make the best choices, plot wise, but it’s definitely something I’ve had happen to me as a writer.

  15. Laurel is underestimated? It’s my favorite character!!

  16. Liz says:

    If nobody is off the table then please kill Wes. He is so irritating, I am really sick of him. Wouldn’t miss him at all.

  17. getting off track,get back or you will lose us

  18. Simounsez says:

    Laurel has always been my favorite character (in addition to her being hot) and now I know why: she’s the smartest one of the Keating Five, and the one who really knows how to put out fires even if she started them.

  19. indi says:

    Talk better stop this theory of Annalise being Wes’ mom. THEY NEED TO SEX.

  20. Elizabeth says:

    I suspected that Annalise was West biological mother since their “mens rea” conversation in the first episode. She was overly-interested in him, Wes’ “waitlist” comment, etc gave it away early for me. And regarding Annalise’s connection to Bonnie & Frank, I think they are ‘related’ via foster family or something. It’s like they’ve known each other since childhood; They’re just too suspiciously loyal & devoted to one another for them not to be family.

  21. MicoMendoza says:

    I think Annalise has something to do with the death of Wes’ mother and now she’s doing everything to protect him to repay for what she did. Or maybe she has had relation to Wes’ father (or mother) and Wes reminded her of them so much…