Shondaland’s twisty-turny Viola Davis hit “How to Get Away With Murder” returns Thursday night on ABC, and creator Pete Nowalk teases, “We’re going to really go places that we haven’t gone before.”
The season premiere will answer the cliffhanger questions right away — Who shot Wallace (Adam Arkin)? Is Frank (Charlie Weber) missing? — but by the end of the episode, perhaps the biggest mystery of all three seasons is set up. And no one is safe.
“It really goes to some emotionally dark places,” Nowalk says, adding that Season 3 is “character-driven, very emotional and full of romantic longing.”
Here, Nowalk previews what’s to come in Season 3 of “How To Get Away With Murder”…
Where is Frank and how soon do we learn of his whereabouts?
That is a huge question for our season. I will say Frank is a central figure and mystery in our entire season. We’ll find out a lot more in the first episode, and what I’m really excited about is that we’re going to dive a lot more into his backstory — his origin story with Sam (Tom Verica) and Annalise (Viola Davis) and see how they met this season. And we’re also going to really delve into the conflict between Annalise and Frank. Obviously he betrayed her in the most major way, hiding the death of her child. It’s exciting to me because we had the personal conflict between Sam and Annalise in the first season, and we have a very similar dynamic between Annalise and Frank this season.
So the relationship between Frank and Annalise will be a long-running storyline throughout the season?
Last season, Annalise said to Bonnie (Liza Weil) something along the lines of: Frank has got to go. We spoke after the finale about whether that means she wants him dead or not, and you said you couldn’t answer that question. What about now?
You’ll get an answer to that question in the first episode. One thing we do is we flash-forward a little bit in time to the second school year, so we’re skipping the summer. It’s an emotional reset for our characters to get some distance from the upheaval and drama of the first two seasons. In that, we’ll see what Annalise meant by “he needs to go,” and if she still feels that way.
Since there’s a time jump over the summer, did any of the characters meet a new summer fling, perhaps? Any new characters introduced?
Yes. I will say one of the students has a new love interest. I won’t say who, but we will meet them in the premiere. A lot of summer love can happen, and that did happen for one of them.
Another big mystery of the Season 2 finale was who shot Wallace? Will we get immediate resolution on that question, or will that question linger for a bit?
That is something we’ll get an answer to very early in the first episode. Everything has a ripple effect, of course, with the death of Wallace and who shot him so it doesn’t go away immediately, but we answer that question very early on.
Even though Wes (Alfred Enoch) didn’t have a relationship with his father, it’s still his father. Will he have an emotional journey after literally being splatted by his father’s own blood when he was shot?
Of course. I think Wes has been through hell so a big thing for him this season is how does he move on, and I think Annalise is really trying to guide him through that process. The first episode is called “We’re Good People Now,” and I think that’s a mantra for all the characters — it’s four months later, they’re trying to get back to normal and that’s a conflict for them. Can they do that? Do they like themselves anymore? Do they want to get back to normal? Are they addicted to the murder?
Speaking of Wes and his storylines, there still hasn’t been complete resolution with the big Rebecca (Katie Findlay) mystery all the way back from Season 1. Will this season touch on that?
Interesting. I think obviously in the life of the show, there are going to be certain things answers to some characters and certain things not, but to be blunt, right now, we’ve put that on the back-burner. The big goal in mind this season is that the past isn’t forgotten, but like the characters, we’re trying to move on. I think for Wes, that Rebecca relationship, he dove deep and it did not go well, so I think he is just trying to forget.
Asher (Matt McGorry) and Michaela (Aja Naomi King) were hooking up last season. Will that continue?
Their relationship is very unique where we find them in the new season. I like it for both of them [laughing]. I really understand that these two people who have become murderers would need to cling to the other single heterosexual person in the group. Those two actors are really fun on camera together. We’re going to find out exactly what their relationship is — what the boundaries are? How the define it? If they’re hooking up? Can they hook up with other people? It’s sort of like a more romantic comedy storyline for us, but we’ll see a lot more of them on-screen together.
Speaking of love interests, what’s in store for Annalise? Will Eve (Famke Janssen) be back?
We’ll find Nate (Billy Brown) and Annalise trying to work past all the conflict they’ve had in the past — whether that’s ever possible is a question they’re both asking themselves. Fortunately, Famke is coming back for an episode before she goes to shoot her new NBC show. It’s pretty epic.
Last season, we learned a lot more about Frank and Wes. Will we learn more about the backstory of any other characters?
We’ll see a lot more with Michaela. We’ve only given a few details so we’re going to be finding more about that. We’re going to find out more about Laurel (Karla Souza) and what her father does, and that dovetails with our big mystery this season. So those are two mysteries I’m really excited about.
In terms of the format, will there be a cast of the season like the Hapstalls or will it be back to case-of-the-week?
I’m very happy to say we don’t have a case-of-the-season, per se. We have a mystery-of-the-season and it mostly involves Frank, but we don’t have a specific trial like Rebecca and the Hapstall trial. What I discovered is that we didn’t need it because there’s so much going on with our character’s personal lives. Basically my goal was to find a mystery that did feel very organic and that touches all of their lives in a more personal way.
Are there any other big changes, in terms of tone, this season?
If I’ve learned anything, it’s make it more emotional and character-driven. I think we’re really trying to give more air to the character’s personal needs.