Post Mortems

HTGAWM 'Survivor' on Heartbreaking Face-off, Annalise's Big Risk

Annalise Keating made quite the unexpected pass at the end of Thursday’s How to Get Away With Murder. No, no, no… I don’t mean to imply she asked puppydog Wes to handle dictation duties — not that there’d be anything wrong with that. (OK, actually, that’d violate the sacred bonds of the professor-student relationship, but I am out-of-control digressing here!)

Instead, the end-of-hour flash-forward found Viola Davis’ mercurial law professor handing off her cellphone to computer whiz Oliver and imploring him to wipe everything clean — seconds before she was arrested by police, her home/office ablaze in the background and a dead (though still unidentified) corpse being wheeled away via ambulance.

While Oliver’s portrayer, Conrad Ricamora, says he still doesn’t know what exactly is on said mobile device, he views the dilemma as his character’s “biggest test” in three seasons. “Annalise is asking him to do something probably more drastic than he’s ever done — at the scene of a crime and with that much urgency,” Ricamora says. “How he responds is going to be a huge indicator of what he wants and what he’s capable of.”

Oliver’s appearance crosses him off the list of potential flash-forward victims — one “survivor” will be revealed each week, until viewers know if it’s Michaela, Asher, Wes, Laurel, Nate or Bonnie who’s under that sheet. We caught up with Ricamora to discuss Oliver’s decision to close the door on a reunion with Connor, the perils of his post-breakup love life and the logic behind his connection to the rule-bending Annalise.

Before we do that, though, here’s a pithy rundown of the non-Oliver plot points from this Season 3, Episode 2, “There Are Worse Things Than Murder.”

Nate moves in with Annalise — the better to reduce nightmares associated with Frank’s MIA status and increase the number of scenes involving a shirtless Billy Brown. Annalise finds herself at odds with Middleton brass concerned about the university’s rep in the wake of all those “murderer” posters popping up around campus. Asher says wants to be more than a “meat stick” to Michaela. And Annalise and Bonnie convince Laurel to let them listen in on any potential phone calls with Frank — while also letting the second-year student know it’s time to go see her father (whatever that means).

Speaking of The Henchman Who Shaved His Beard — and 10 Years — Off His Face, Frank places a call to Annalise’s burner phone, bloody and tearful, explaining he had no choice but to kill his former boss’s new heavy. Then he puts the would-be hitman’s corpse in a car and pulls an Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale. (Cue Alicia Keys’ voice crying out, “This! Car! Is! On Fiyaaaah!”)

And now back to our interview with Mr. Ricamora.

TVLINE | Walk me through this week’s makeout moment, which led into Oliver essentially telling Connor, “If you love me, let me go.” What was it like to shoot that?
It felt very realistic. How many times have I been “broken up” with someone only to have it drag out for awhile? And then you reach a point of saying, “This is what I need. This is what I want. We actually have to end this.” It was heartbreaking. Connor’s last line when he’s leaving and says, “This is your apartment,” I only felt the weight of that line when [Jack Falahee] said it. When I was prepping, that wasn’t the case. It’s the heartbreak of someone moving their things out of a shared apartment, and then there’s a person left in a place where he’d built a home for awhile now with Connor.

TVLINE | Our readers tend to really love the Oliver character, but the breakup scene in the season premiere — where Oliver is upset at Connor for not being angry over his confession regarding the Stanford email deletion — made many of them upset. Do you get where your character is coming from? Can you defend the decision?
[Laughs] Oh, I completely understand it! It’s always been my experience in relationships that when someone isn’t being completely who they are, it always comes out sideways. And the person being kept in the dark — in this case, Oliver — feels that something is wrong. Connor’s complete acceptance of Oliver deleting the Stanford email is an overcompensation for his own guilt. It doesn’t add up to Oliver. So to hear that some people don’t get it makes me think, “Really?” [Laughs] The guy’s lying about a murder he committed!

TVLINE | Well, when you put it that way… These people have done a lot of terrible things, so it’s easy to forget Connor’s lie that he’d gotten back on drugs as an explanation for his unhinged state after Sam’s death.
Then in Season 2, in passing, Connor was like “I might go to jail.” [Laughs] It feels like such a metaphor for how relationships sometimes play out. You meet someone and you fall in love, and then you want to protect that, and sometimes protect it at the cost of honesty and complete openness. But it always comes out in the end.

TVLINE | It hasn’t been very long since Oliver learned he’s HIV-positive, either. And that’s another major life event he’s had to absorb in the midst of his relationship with Connor, and his major career change.
Everything came to a head in this perfect s–tstorm of events. Oliver learning he’s positive. Connor being involved in these murders and coverups. Oliver deleting the Stanford email. They’re all happening almost simultaneously. Not that they’re necessarily related, but it so happens that he needs this time for himself, while also sensing something isn’t right about his current relationship.

TVLINE | I know you’ve done the table read all the way through Episode 8. Can you tease what a single Oliver looks like? Does he dip his toe back into the dating pool?
Oliver and Connor will need to figure out the boundaries in their relationship now that they work together. They knew what they were, but they don’t know what they’re going to be. It’s going to be clunky. They’re going to hit a lot of misunderstandings and hurt feelings along the way, and Oliver will need to figure out who he is as a single person, with a new job and with this diagnosis. What will it all mean as he navigates single-dom — if he chooses to.

TVLINE | Is it exciting to think about exploring Oliver as a single man?
It’s exciting to explore playing an [HIV] positive gay man — and what it means in 2016. I just watched a documentary called Surviving a Plague, and it’s all about the AIDS crisis in the ’90s. But very little has been talked about what that’s like now. So to bring that conversation into 2016 should be exciting and important.

TVLINE | Oliver made it clear to Annalise in no uncertain terms that he can be bad, that he can break the rules. Did that take you by surprise?
I wasn’t. The whole reason he took the job with Annalise is because he sees how she helps people. And if she has to bend the rules sometimes, he is starting to understand she gets done what she thinks is right — which bites her in the ass a lot. But he also believes in that and finds it exciting. We’ll have to see how it all plays out.

TVLINE | Was it nice when you got the Episode 2 script to learn your character survives “Fire Night”?
Of course, however temporarily. I understand the nature of this show! [Laughs]

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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41 Comments
  1. mike says:

    it either wes or nate

  2. dan says:

    Amy Madigan was terrific as Irene! Her performance was perfect. And the last two minutes of the show were exciting. As for the rest of the episode–it was just okay. I liked Asher saying he’s more than a meat stick and Michaela admitting that they’re screwing, but otherwise it was kind of a dull episode. The school’s plan to suspend Annaliese? Stupid and wouldn’t happen in real life for a variety of reasons.

  3. bigdede says:

    If it’s Nate that’s dead, I’m done with this show. Nate has been so loyal to Annalise after EVERYTHING she did to him the first season. Setting him up for murder, getting him beat up in prison, getting him demoted, losing hIS job, etc. He better not die!

  4. bigdede says:

    Also maybe it’s just me but I can’t stand Oliver

  5. Mike says:

    Did anyone else find this episode rather derogatory? There were at least three instances which white people were stereotyped as being racist, unsympathetic, or just bad simply because they’re white.

    While I get that these things can be true and that our country needs to change, these remarks don’t further the conversation because they don’t address the issue, other than to make being white a punching bag. If you’re going to critique racism, shouldn’t you actually discuss it rather than use it as an excuse to be racist?

    Imagine if a white male told a black woman that she’s not worth his investment, but he’ll use her as a tool for his sexual needs. Reverse the roles, and that’s what Michaela told Asher.

    • I completely agree, but unfortunately this is what our America is becoming. Now, it seems, it’s OK to make stereotypes, generalizations and derogatory remarks about people as long as they fall into certain categories (white, Christians and/or males). The comment that Asher is racist because she is the first black girl that he has seen naked was ridiculous and would completely get called out if it where the other way around.

      • chris says:

        I get what you are saying and I won’t say reverse racism is ok because it is not. I have a bi-racial child and am a black woman and can see the digs but BECAUSE of that I can more understand the conversation in regards to the Asher/Michaela thing. I think Michaela used the race card because she wants to be repugnant in that moment and not ADMIT that she might have feels for a white man, man who up until this moment has never dated outside his race. He was also rich, spoiled, and in some ways takes no accountability for his own actions which indicate privelage to her so she assumes she’s a “charm” so to speak. It’s sad, but IT HAS HAPPENED to a. It’s considered a “marvel” It’s not surprising she’d have this backwards view compiled with her horrendous relationships in her past. A ” meat stick” is all she is allowing to think of him as. I am not defending her because I think girl has major issues with herself and her WORTH since she’s kinda giving up on herself in some ways and this whole conversation really wasn’t just about race and Asher I feel in that moment called out her stupidity.

        And again while I don’t advocate racism at all, that uncomfortable feeling is what a great deal of what black people feel walking into a room. Racist and sterotype things are said all the time without pretense and without consideration and many feel they have to deal with it and if they do say something, they are just being ” difficult” or ‘; seeing things” or making a big deal out of thing…so on and so forth. I think this episode is to show two things; racism is not just something white people are capable of and the second being, this is what it feels like to be discriminated against? That you feel a way means you have further the conversation because you can connect that uncomfortable feeling to the next minority you see who may experience what you see in a “fake” episode to reality.

      • chris says:

        That is NOT America right now, it’s what America has always been. I hate when people thnk racism crawled out of the woodworks years ago when it’s literally in the soil of this country. No one thinks it’s OK to be racist. At least if you’re normal, and decent, you don’t think it’s ok and never will be ok with it no matter if it comes from side A or B. Ansd where did religion come into play here? Religious strife has also existed before the Dawn of time too so that too is not something that is America now. This episode was making a point, not advocating racism which is why I find this comment baffling.

      • chris says:

        That is NOT America right now, it’s what America has always been. I hate when people thInk racism crawled out of the wood works years ago when it’s literally in the soil of this country. No one thinks it’s OK to be racist. At least if you’re normal, and decent, you don’t think it’s ok and never will be ok with it no matter if it comes from side A or B. Ansd where did religion come into play here? Religious strife has also existed before the Dawn of time too so that too is not something that is America now. This episode was making a point, not advocating racism which is why I find this comment baffling.

    • Jake says:

      I agree.
      I was looking all morning on articles why they are bashing white people so hard and this comment is all I found… maybe since race is a big issue in this election and they keep showing Annelise for Hillary ads in it, they’re some sort of biased or something.
      Good show and all it was just weird all the jabs on whites.

    • jj says:

      but Asher called her out on it.

    • chris says:

      I get what you are saying and I won’t say reverse racism is ok because it is not. I have a bi-racial child and am a black woman and can see the digs but BECAUSE of that I can more understand the conversation in regards to the Asher/Michaela thing. I think Michaela used the race card because she wants to be repugnant in that moment and not ADMIT that she might have feels for a white man, man who up until this moment has never dated outside his race. He was also rich, spoiled, and in some ways takes no accountability for his own actions which indicate privelage to her so she assumes she’s a “charm” so to speak. It’s sad, but IT HAS HAPPENED to a. It’s considered a “marvel” It’s not surprising she’d have this backwards view compiled with her horrendous relationships in her past. A ” meat stick” is all she is allowing to think of him as. I am not defending her because I think girl has major issues with herself and her WORTH since she’s kinda giving up on herself in some ways and this whole conversation really wasn’t just about race and Asher I feel in that moment called out her stupidity.

      And again while I don’t advocate racism at all, that uncomfortable feeling is what a great deal of what black people feel walking into a room. Racist and sterotype things are said all the time without pretense and without consideration and many feel they have to deal with it and if they do say something, they are just being ” difficult” or ‘; seeing things” or making a big deal out of thing…so on and so forth. I think this episode is to show two things; racism is not just something white people are capable of and the second being, this is what it feels like to be discriminated against? That you feel a way means you have further the conversation because you can connect that uncomfortable feeling to the next minority you see who may experience what you see in a “fake” episode to reality.

    • Vanessa says:

      LOL, Blacks have experienced being used as sexual playthings and being hidden in the shadows or dropped when a quality white mate comes along for generations. It’s only been over the past 6 or so years that we’ve seen an uptick in Black women having non-black love interests on-screen because prior Black women were deemed so unsuitable and undesirable that presenting them as anything more than maybe a sex buddy, especially for a white man, was not seen as acceptable or viable. And this mirrors real life sentiments as well.

      Additionally this show takes place at a top law school. Prestigious university + the legal system, and yes a lot of racism is going to be called out. If you’re a hetero, white man, you have benefited from these systems and the policies in place, a truth many of you are unwilling to admit. But on a tv show these are perfectly valid things to point out and include.

    • Kathleen S. says:

      Ugh, it’s been bothering me since I watched the episode. Like when Wes’s girlfriend assumed the person posting the flyers about Annalise was “probably some white person.” Really? That needed to be added in? Or Michaela making the comment that she didn’t have time or couldn’t fix Asher’s bad white habits (or something to that effect). Yes, racism is an issue that is an especially hot topic right now, but reverse racism isn’t the answer. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  6. Taylor says:

    Tonight just solidified my thoughts last week that Connor’s under the sheet. I just have this hunch and seeing his relationship with Annalise grow makes me think he’ll play a key part of this story arc compared to the other four members of K5

    • Cheyenne says:

      I don’t see her having screaming hysterics if it’s Connor under the sheet.

      • jj says:

        yes but Viola has said that she filmed that scene not knowing who was under the sheet. She just went for it with her reaction. Consequently, I don’t think we can accurately use the extent of her reaction as a indicator of who it is.

  7. jj says:

    haha dead corpse. aren’t all corpses dead? ;) I noticed Connor isn’t on your list of potential dead corpses. Oversight? Wishful thinking? or do you know something we don’t know? hmmm

  8. TvLover says:

    I Really thought that the actress who played Irene did a fantastic job too.

    Now my top guesses are

    1. Connor? why would Oliver be the first one there besides Annaliese?

    2. Nate? possibly why she was so horrified.

    3. Wes? Why did she suggest that he stay with her?

    4. Frank, kills himself to prove a point to Annaliese?

    5. Asher, very unlikely but still a possibility.

    6. Eve? Famke Janssen returns, also a reason for the reason why Annaliese reacted the way that she did?

    7. Bonnie, but she’s too short.

  9. Lilly77 says:

    Lost interest in this show with Connor and Oliver breaking up – realised I don’t actually like any of the other characters at all anymore. Not at all interested in seeing them date other people. There have been too many shocks and twists overall for me now and I think the show’s gone too far with making all the characters pretty awful – sad, because I used to really like waiting to see what mad twist they’d come up with next. No doubt they won’t miss me watching.

  10. Lala says:

    I was really hoping it was Oliver under that sheet…he’s just so selfish. If thy kill Wes, Connor, Asher or Laurel I’m done with this show!!

    • greg says:

      what about him causes your low tolerance for selfishness? I mean on a show full of selfish people, even in your list of people you don’t want dead there

    • Vanessa says:

      Same. I can’t stand Oliver. I was so annoyed that he was the first one to be revealed as safe.

      I could easily part with Asher despite loving Matt McGorry but I’m not particularly excited to lose any of the real, main cast members.

  11. As long as Bonnie and Michaela aren’t under the sheet, I’m good.
    A great second episode.

  12. Eva says:

    I love Oliver and Conner together. Don’t understand why they had to break them up.

  13. Nate, in a jealous ‘roid rage (because, just look at that dude’s body), kills Eve because of ‘roids and jealousy and rage over Trump winning the election, especially because of the last part.

  14. herman1959 says:

    OK, I’m used to suspending belief when it comes to this show but the idea of a university suspending the VICTIM of an intimidation campaign is ridiculous, even if it’s for her own good. And, in what world would the police arrest a homeowner for arson on the scene while the fire is burning with no evidence? Finally, we are talking about a lawyer who could sue the socks off of anyone. I enjoy this show, but the writing has gotten sloppy.

  15. Max says:

    I finally figured out why I have such a tough time watching this show. I hate all the characters.

  16. Annie says:

    The list mentions Michaela, Asher, Wes, Laurel, Nate or Bonnie. So, Connor is alive? How do we know?

  17. A says:

    Hopefully we get something fun out of Connor and Michaela living together, with Asher on the side. Maybe some Casher…?

  18. S says:

    At the end when Oliver shows up and says he heard there was a body and asks if its true, Annalise says they don’t know anything yet. I mean clearly she saw a body last week. Was she lying? Am i missing something?

  19. Nichole says:

    Given the reaction by Annalise to the person under the sheet and that fact the house is still burning while the body is already in the ambulance, we have to assume the person was killed outside the house, perhaps when they caught whoever set the fire leaving. The sheet shape appears to be a person small in stature. The given with the response from Annalise makes me think it is her mother and not one of the team. The other option size wise and response wise is Bonnie. While Annalise does care for the five students to various degrees, I can not see her responding quite so passionately. Eve is also another possibility. I would guess either her mother or Eve – gives you the response and character impact going forward while still keeping the core cast together.

  20. Did they put makeup on Amy Madigan to make her look older?