Post Mortems
How to Get Away With Murder Recap

How to Get Away With Murder Boss on Wes' 'Meredith Grey' Arc, Frank's Fate and That Riveting Backyard Burial

There is no such thing as “too cruel” in television.

That’s a lesson How to Get Away With Murder creator Pete Nowalk learned from his boss Shonda Rhimes — and applied to his own ABC drama’s Season 2 finale.

“Look at poor Meredith Grey [on Grey’s Anatomy] and what she’s been through — and they’ve made it to Season 13,” Nowalk says, when asked about the new layer of tragedy piled onto law student Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) at the end of this week’s episode. “Sometimes you just have to put your characters through hell.”

To recap, Season 2 ended with Wes approaching Wallace Mahoney — the man who’d raped his mother some two decades ago, resulting in her becoming pregnant with Wes — only to see the wealthy hedge-fund manager get gunned down by an unseen shooter. (For those keeping score at home, that means Wes not only witnessed the death of both of his parents, but ended up covered in their blood.)

Meanwhile, we learned in the “10 Years Earlier” flashback that Frank received a suitcase full of cash in exchange for planting a bug in Annalise’s hotel room during the Charles Mahoney trial — and that it was Wallace who’d orchestrated the car crash that resulted in the death of Annalise’s unborn baby (in an attempt to stop her from sharing damning information with the prosecution). Frank confessed his sins to a Sam, who insisted Annalise could never know the truth because it would destroy her.

HTGAWM BonnieAt the end of the hour, Bonnie revealed to Annalise that Frank had played a role in the death of her child — and how Sam would later use his knowledge of Frank’s bad act to coerce him into murdering Lila Stangard. Annalise insisted Frank would need to exit the firm — but as Laurel went to his apartment to look for him, she discovered he’d already packed his things and left town.

Finally, the Hapstall case was wrapped up when Caleb turned against Annalise and nearly got her arrested for obstruction of justice. Proving it never pays to double cross the Lady Keating, we learned Philip (in his struggle with our protagonist in Wes’ apartment) had begged Annalise to believe his version of events: That Caleb killed his own adoptive parents, then murdered his aunt (Philip’s biomom) in an attempt to inherit the entire Hapstall fortune. (And creepy Philip had a fitness tracker and a confession from Catherine to support his version of events.) Annalise used all that intel to make sure the politically minded D.A. pursued Caleb — not her — and as the police closed in on Caleb, he committed suicide by slitting his wrists in a warm bath.

Annalise might’ve turned the tables even faster — but she’d spent most of the hour hiding away at her mother’s house in Memphis. When she finally told Cicely Tyson’s Ophelia about her decade-old lost pregnancy, it led to a heartbreaking sequence in which her mother had her write a note to the baby and bury it in the backyard. “His name was Sam,” Annalise wept, dropping to her knees as a trembling Ophelia held her in her arms.

Below, Nowalk takes a deep dive into the action packed hour — and offers some bonus scoop about the not-that-innocent Oliver!

Cicely Tyson HTGAWMTVLINE | Before we get into the death toll and shocking revelations from the finale, I wanted to talk to you about Annalise’s trip back home. You had told me last week that having Cicely Tyson available to return as Annalise’s mom made you feel like you had to dig into this part of the story. What did you already know about Annalise’s hometown life beforehand — and what parts of the arc came as a surprise as you wrote them?
The only thing we really knew going in was that Annalise hadn’t ever told her mother that she’d been pregnant and had lost the child. That felt very real to me. For Annalise, we saw she was so scared of having this baby, and so scared of losing the baby, that it almost wasn’t real to her. She didn’t want to tell anyone. She didn’t want to tell Eve. She just didn’t want to believe that it was possible, and unfortunately, she was right.

It’s always such a collaboration with Viola — talking to her, hashing it out — and also talking to Cicely about what the dynamic was with the father. Viola was like, “I’m really curious to meet her father.” That was something we’d talked about in the middle of the season. We went through many different versions, I will say, and it was hard — because we don’t have that much time in the episode to explore it. Basically, the version we ended up with was a snapshot of what this family is like. There’s more to explore in the future, and I’m really excited and hopeful that we’ll get to do that next season and in future seasons — because things are so unresolved with a lot of the characters.

TVLINE | The dynamic between Annalise and her dad was fascinating, as was his observation that more so than anyone else, she should understand his dynamic of coming home to Ophelia to remind himself of who he is.
What I loved about meeting her father was that he’s a runner. He ran away from his problems, and that’s really what Annalise has done for the last 20 years. She hasn’t really interacted with her family because she thought she could survive without them.

Her father’s stuff is also really interesting to me because here Annalise has been betrayed by men her entire life, and so I get why she has such trust issues. I get why she lashes out at people. Sam betrayed her, and then she found out Frank betrayed her, and here’s her father who abandoned her as a child. Of course, her uncle betrayed her, too. It provides a full picture of why she is the way she is.

TVLINE | The backyard burial scene, where did that idea come from? It was almost like an emotional bookend to last week’s episode, where we saw Annalise lose the baby in the emergency room.
If she was going to go home, she needed to heal in some way. She’s never dealt truly with the loss of the child. She’s never grieved it in a full way. I mean, just keeping it a secret from your mother is not healthy.

She’s been burying it, and it’s not actually been working, clearly. Annalise was hallucinating a baby a few episodes ago, and Bonnie even said that had happened before, so it’s clearly a kind of PTSD that Annalise hasn’t dealt with. [Losing her baby at full term] not something she could cry about and then be like, “OK, I’m done with it,” but we did want a healing moment or something close to healing — and who else can she do that with but her mother?

Frank HTGAWMTVLINE | Let’s talk abut Frank, who’s been this figure carrying out bad deeds in the shadows for two seasons. Did you deliberately set out to explore this character when you started Season 2 — or did this exploration sprout out of the storytelling?
I definitely knew it would be a season where we got to know a lot about Frank, because we had to answer the question of why he killed Lila. It was the major thing that we left off with [in the Season 1 finale]. So, I came into the season knowing that I wanted to figure out a way that Frank, basically, killed Annalise’s baby and felt a ton of guilt about that — and how it tied him into Sam. It really is the ultimate betrayal to Annalise and makes me understand why he’s so loyal to her.

I will say this, there’s still so much more to explore with Frank. We still don’t know what he was like before he started working for Annalise, where Sam met him before that, what happened those 10 years after. I’m open to seeing more of that. What I love is that we can continue to show the past and show different sides of these characters at the same time we delve into the future.

TVLINE | One nagging question people might have: How did Sam let Frank stick around for 10 years? Why didn’t Frank just quit the job? What do you say to people who don’t buy it?
I would say that’s a great question, and I get it, and there are answers that we haven’t shown you yet. What’s their origin story? This clearly wasn’t the first little secret they’ve kept between them, and there’s probably a lot more than that, so I would just say it’s just the start.

TVLINE | Based on the final minutes of the episode, and putting aside how often things are not as they initially appear on How to Get Away With Murder, are we supposed to assume it was Frank who murdered Wallace Mahoney?
I definitely think Frank is on the top of the list of suspects. It makes sense that he would be the shooter, and sometimes we do exactly what you think makes sense — though sometimes we do things that are different. We’ll answer that sometime in Season 3. Since we haven’t written it yet, I don’t know when exactly [we’ll reveal], but that’s something that we might answer right away or we might make you wait a little bit. That said, I understand why you would suspect Frank. I do know who the shooter is and it makes a lot of sense to me.

TVLINE | Will Charlie Weber be a series regular in Season 3?
Well, I don’t want to say anything because I don’t want to give away anything.

TVLINE | Fair enough. Speaking of Frank, though, why did he confess to Sam so quickly and so completely?
It really started with the idea that I needed their secret to be about Annalise, and I understand Sam completely for wanting to keep this information from Annalise. It’s one thing to believe that there was an accident and that’s why you lost your child and it was just God’s fate. But to know that it really could have been prevented — and that one of your people has betrayed you — Sam thought that that would destroy Annalise. I don’t know if that was a good decision, but I understand why he made it. Again, as far as the Sam/Frank relationship goes, we’ve just started to scratch the surface.

TVLINE | Wanting to tell Annalise, too, seemed like a way for Frank to get some of the crushing guilt off his chest.
Yeah. Frank was a dumb, little, wounded boy, and Charlie’s performance in that scene is so genius because it shows how he made a mistake. He made a booboo, and it was terrible and selfish, but he never thought it would end up with a dead child. He was just young and stupid, and I can really relate to that. And it really explains why he’s so loyal to Annalise. He’s trying to make up for the ultimate sin.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 7.27.11 PMTVLINE | Shifting gears to Wes witnessing Wallace’s death. Can we assume that Wallace’s wife and son — played by Roxanne Hart and Wilson Bethel — will play fairly prominent roles in Season 3? Is that an arc you absolutely have to play out right away?
That’s not for sure at all. I love those actors, so it’s a definite possibility, but I’m just going to give myself like a month, and then I’m going to start diving in.

TVLINE | Do you have a sense of what Wes’ state of mind is going to be when you resume?
What’s really different for Wes is his relationship with Annalise. Now that she’s told him what she’s been protecting him from, he understands her. And for once, maybe he feels like he has someone in his corner, that he’s not all alone. We’ve seen Wes really distraught and sad and a mess, and so I don’t know if I want to see him that way again.

TVLINE | You also wrapped up the Hapstall case with Caleb dead in a bathtub. Are we assuming that death was by his own hand, that no one else played a role in his death there?
It definitely looks like a suicide, and he has a lot of reasons to have done it, because he was the mastermind. The thing I didn’t want to do was make it like a Scooby Doo episode with really clear evidence — like a videotape that Caleb did it. What I leaned into was the idea of real life, where most of the time, we never actually know. We convict people who seem 99 percent guilty, but then we find out they’re not. With that said, I don’t imagine revisiting the Hapstall case next season. It’s always possible, so I can take that back, but right now, that was always designed to be a case of the season.

TVLINE | Was Caleb always going to turn out to be the murderer?
Yes, for a while, and then I worried it was too obvious. When we got to this episode, the writers convinced me it was the right way to go. Annalise’s fight with Philip ended so quickly in the last episode, and I loved that we were able to continue it and show that Annalise has been really debating for the last two episodes about what she’s going to do with his information. Does she believe Philip? The minute Annalise found out that Caleb was the rat, she trusted Philip and believed that Caleb was the killer.

TVLINE | She went into legal superhero mode from that moment forward. We’ve seen a lot of vulnerable Annalise in the back half of Season 2 — so it was nice to see her go to the DA’s office and crush it.
I agree. Annalise is a badass, and she’ll always be a badass, and I love to see her be victorious. Going home to her mother allowed her to get back in the game.

Oliver HTGAWMTVLINE | Final question: Oliver pulled a fast one on Connor — deleting his Stanford acceptance email and impersonating Connor on the phone to make sure they didn’t leave Philadelphia. Is sweet Oliver going dark in Season 3?
I love Oliver, and I totally understand why he would want to live a little bit more on the dark side. Everyone in our show started off thinking they were one person, but their real natures come out eventually. So yes, Oliver’s life has changed. He has a new lease on life… not only meeting Connor, but also his [HIV-positive] diagnosis. All of it has made him look at his life and say, “What do I really want?” He wants a little bit more excitement. He wants to feel passionate about his job. He doesn’t want to be bored.

TVLINE | Working at Annalise’s firm has not been boring — that’s for sure!
[Laughs]. You definitely have to be careful who you hang out with.

What did you think of the HTGAWM Season 2 finale? Any hopes for Season 3? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

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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52 Comments
  1. ? says:

    HAHAHAHAHA. How is Wes not insane? Like, seriously!

  2. JP says:

    If Cecily Tyson doesn’t win an Emmy for this (she was robbed last year), the Emmy voters are against her.. Her and Viola Davis are pure gold together… I need Cecily on my Tv every week… The scene with her and her daughter spying on Nate had my wife and I dying with laughter… Final note: Oliver #teamkeating all the way

    • Bonnie says:

      I actually love that they dish her out as a rare dessert. It’s powerful only because it’s not happening every episode- if it did it would be exhausting. I can’t believe the level of acting these two bring to the small screen. Definitely hope to see them both win some Emmy love this year.

  3. Cheyenne says:

    I was kind of underwhelmed by this finale. I think they dragged out her visit back home too long. It took up over half the episode. I don’t totally buy Frank as a repentant killer. He’s got a dark side they haven’t adequately touched on yet. And I still want to know more about Bonnie. That woman is pure evil.

    • sntindall says:

      I agree. I don’t find the home life stuff compelling.

    • dan says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth! My thoughts exactly about this episode. I predicted weeks ago that Caleb was the murderer so I was underwhelmed by the reveal (although I liked the fact that Phillip was actually a good guy). I was surprised that the season-long Hapstall story was wrapped up in about 90 seconds. I wasn’t surprised that Mahoney orchestrated the car accident, but I was surprised that Frank set the wheels in motion thanks to his one-night stand. Loved the Asher/Michala exchange: “we’re going to do it again aren’t we?” “Yes please.” Cecily is awesome!

    • Sam says:

      Same here. Very underwhelming.

    • Anna says:

      Same here. It was a bad call for them to spend so much downtime in the episode with Annalise’s family. There should have been more time spent on the Wes/his dad storyline and the Philip/Caleb psycho killer switcharoo. It almost felt like they just threw those important scenes in at the last minute to wrap up the season, but I felt kind of cheated.

      Also, Frank and Bonnie are stone cold killers. Their dark sides are why Annalise keeps them around. The repentant killer bit was kind of a cop-out for his character.

      • Cheyenne says:

        Exactly. It’s a total one-eighty and it makes no sense at all. Frank has never shown a bit of remorse in the whole ten years after the fact, so what made him feel so repentant now? I’m not buying it.

  4. laurelnev says:

    I’m not so sure Frank would shoot Wallace in front of Wes. Wes is too much of a wild card at this point, especially after he found out about Rebecca. I’m not sure shootingis Frank’s style either. Isn’t Eve’s office in NY?

  5. Thad Quinlan says:

    Viola Davis is one of the greatest actress’ of our time.

  6. Solvey says:

    I just love this show and I can’t wait to see Season 3!!!!! To everyone involved in creating this wonderful show, thank you!

  7. Tee says:

    I wonder if the first episode of the next season shows Oliver emptying Conner’s email trash can…

    • Jbj says:

      Not to mention that Conner can check his application status on the University website! He would have been better off hacking into Stanford’s system.

  8. Sam says:

    I wouldn’t put the characters Wes and Meredith Grey in the same sentence.

    A rather disappointing finale where stuff only happened in the final 10mins or so. A lacklustre finale fitting a lacklustre season.

    • Cheyenne says:

      I wouldn’t call this season lackluster at all. Most of it was great. But except for Cicely Tyson, this finale was a big yawn.

    • Anna says:

      The first half of this season was fire – some of the best writing and pacing that television has to offer. Now when they came back from the midseason break…that’s where the lackluster took over. Hopefully they can pull it back together in season 3.

  9. Rob says:

    Wow. What an incredibly powerful episode and the perfect bookend to a fantastic sophomore season. That scene between Annalise and Ophelia in the backyard was one for the record books. It made me feel things a TV show has never made me feel. And Annalise’s relationship with men, starting with her father and uncle, then Sam and Frank…I even sense a feeling of betrayal and resentment towards her son because he left her. There is so much to unpack with this character and Viola Davis is perfection in this role. I can’t say enough good things about this show. Wow.

  10. D.R. says:

    I find the background music annoying and loud .It drowns out the dialogue , which itself is not spoken with ‘crisp’ diction.It is the case with all Shona Rhimes shows .I do like the shows .The sound mixing is the worst .

  11. pblo78 says:

    EVE someone as MAhoney killer?

  12. Chicago Dan says:

    It’s funny that Nowalk was being coy about CW being a regular on S3 when he spent most of the interview telling us there’s more to explore about Frank! Good thing CW confirmed in his interview.

    CT & VD together – awesome, but once a season keeps it special. I get they wanted to take advantage of Tyson’s availability and since HTGAWM is only 15 episodes – something had to give (like more depth on the Hapstall and Mahoney storylines). The show is so dense (in a very good way), it was refreshing to open it up a bit and get more insight into Annalise.

  13. kevstar says:

    I haven’t watched the show this show as closely since the last hslf of the season, but did Oliver actually get hotter this season?

  14. Ashley says:

    i dont think frank killed wes’s father… wes’s half brother (the one on trial ten years prior) might more likely be the shooter???

  15. Mak says:

    Pros: Annalise’s burial scene with her mother was emotional & a great closure to the pregnancy plot & also it felt like something Annalise really needed.
    Loved Wes & Laurel scene, they have a great friendship.
    Enjoyed the Flashbacks with Frank & Sam.
    Stellar cast as usual & Viola did not disappoint…another Emmy on the way def.
    .
    Cons: For a show with only 15 episodes I feel like too much time was spend on Annalise’s home visit, most of it felt very out of place & unnecessary. In parts it felt like a filler episode than a finale.
    Would have loved more scenes with the Keating 5 esp Wes & him dealing with the issue of his father. Wanted more flashbacks on Caleb/Catherine/Philip & to tie up the Hapstall case nicely without rushing it. At the end of the episode I was left thinking was this one of AK’s plots to get out of trouble or was Caleb the killer.
    All in all not a bad Finale! Can’t wait for s3

  16. QueenB says:

    Kerry Washington and Viola Davis gave Emmy worthy performances last night. They’ll be duking it out of the Best Actress Emmy. I wasn’t shocked by the Caleb and Catherine incest twist that was obvious but him being the mastermind (killing his parents and his aunt) was a shocker as was his suicide. Charlie Weber gave an amazing performance last night when confessing his sin to Sam. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  17. bluji says:

    To be quite honest, I don’t like Oliver as a character. He just seems so… out of sync with the others, somehow.
    Regarding the Hapstall case, I didn’t actually see the reveal coming. In hindsight, it’s so obvious, though. I really would have hoped it to spill a little into season 3, since the Stangard case did that quite strongly.
    But regardless, I enjoyed the finale. The way the episode ended does set up quite an interesting start to the new season… how to survive the summer hiatus? D:

    • Jamie says:

      Oliver is out of sync with the other characters on purpose – he was always supposed to be the innocent, sweet character that lives in juxtaposition to the rest of the manipulating, murderous Annalise crew. I don’t like that they’re making him all dark and twisty like the rest of the cast. With the way the show is going though, he’ll probably become a murderer in season 3, and then we won’t have any innocents left.

  18. herman1959 says:

    First, let me say how absolutely adorable Cicely Tyson was in this episode; she’s clearly getting into the role. I enjoyed the finale, but PLEASE don’t let Frank be Mahoney’s murder – we’ve done that – let’s just go with it being someone involved in Mahoney’s (evidently from his telephone conversation) shady business dealings. Bring on the flashback/flashforwards for Season 3!

  19. robandco says:

    Well, I did not see Caleb being the killer coming. What started out as a big failure IMO turned out to be a great case of the season.
    Poor Puppy Wes. Frank is really too obvious IMO. He has motive, sure, but they know better. I can’t wait for next season!!!

  20. Vickie says:

    Thus show never disappoints!!! VIOLA DAVIS ROCKS!!!

  21. So deep, and twisted. Shonda wants us to want them to get away with murder and to drink vodka. I’m in. Waiting for Season 3!

  22. jessica says:

    My gut tells me Annalise killed Wallace Mahoney. ..Frank ran from his guilt.

  23. Sarah j says:

    Oliver will become the new Frank.
    Until it comes it tha Frank killed Wallace to redeem himself to Annalise.

  24. Tina brandon says:

    I love this show its all over the place and gets my adrenaline flowing! You never know whos in Annalise’s proverbial dog house next.

  25. Tina brandon says:

    I think Nate murdered Mahoney!

  26. JBGoode says:

    So, I just love Frank, he needs to stay on the show and Annalise forgives him. As for Viola and Cicely Tyson–golden duo. It’s just like pent up, secretive, run away from, but need to be home with security. Love them. The family dynamic is the funniest! Bonnie is odd, it’s something off about her, I am undecided whether she’s good or bad or both–I guess, the irony of being human–that you can be conflicted in how you live?? I guess, imperfect. I dunno. I do know this show is heady, but I love that–it makes you think. When you think you’ve figured it out–boom, something different. I thought Wes was Annalise’s son, and Famke’s character’s some way. Which is another interesting twist of Annalise’s life, maybe a part she’s afraid of or something…how did they happen? It’s a bit twisted. One thing I dislike about TGIT, everybody’s love is a triangle….why? Back and forth…instead of progressive. My only gripe. I love HTGAWM–such a smart, thought-provoking show. It exercises your wit. I love it & Grey’s (strongly dislike those love triangles too–just like forward relationship movement, it is or isn’t or move on).

  27. liame says:

    Great episode. Loved the home scenes in particular. There’s something more going on there between Annalise and her father. I know he abused her mom but I’m thinking he abused her as well. She can’t stand him and doesn’t want him touching her. Asher and Michaela are a good pairing, I hope it continues. I can’t wait to find out about Frank and Bonnie’s past. Those two are some evil mofo’s.

  28. Bagelady says:

    We know part of the finale was intended to be slowed down, but momentum lost and by the time the exciting stuff happened – it was anticlimactic .

  29. carrionne says:

    I have a question. Does no one care about Rebecca anymore? Last we heard, Wes still didn’t know if she was dead or not.

  30. Maxine Jones says:

    Season 3, please!? ☺️💕

  31. EXCELLENT SHOW ! HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER IS LIKE A ROLLER COASTER RIDE FULL OF EXCITEMENT AND SUSPENSE. ANNALISE IS A GREAT ACTRESS.

  32. Eric says:

    Shonda writes crazy ingenious stuff!

  33. Eric says:

    Quoting another blogger: “My gut tells me Annalise killed Wallace Mahoney”.
    I disagree. So far Annalise has done no evil. I believe that she never will. She has been rescued by murder, but never herself used murder.