How To Get Away With Murder delivered a shocking third season. Each episode revealed which key characters would survive until a fan favorite tragically perished in the mid-season finale. The mystery of who killed the beloved character and how the dirty deed occurred was revealed in the season finale, but not without leaving a host of questions and cliffhangers leading into the fourth season of the ABC drama. In an interview with Variety, showrunner Peter Nowalk hinted at what's to come in Season 4 and how it will yet again change the fabric of the hit series.
Warning: Major How To Get Away With Murder Season 3 spoilers ahead.
Where In The World?
Nowalk teased that while the flash-forward mystery will remain a core component of the show's DNA, the premise of the mystery will be unlike anything audiences have seen before:
"But our question this year — the 'Who killed Sam?' 'Who’s under the sheet?' — is a 'where?'... I can’t say anything more than that, but what I like about it is it feels different from all of the other seasons because it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a who-killed-who mystery. ... It’s a 'where' that everyone wants the answer to."
This sounds like a smart move that maintains the show's signature format while providing a refreshing spin on what viewers have witnessed in past seasons. It's easy to fall into the trap of continuing to murder characters and keep audiences guessing about either who the victim or killer is. Having the where be the big question of the season provides something different while keeping the flash-forward mystery.
Most of the series has taken place at Middleton University, the college where Annalise and the Keating Five met in the first place. The where mystery seems to hint that the show's world is expanding far beyond Middleton University. With Laurel's father Jorge Castillo revealed to be the individual behind the death of Wes, it is likely that the where mystery will heavily revolve around him and his business beyond the college campus. Early in Season 3 when Laurel met with her father in the hopes he could help her locate Frank, audiences discovered that Castillo is a telecommunications mogul involved in creating government surveillance technology. Castillo's past shady dealings and high-profile connections create potential for a mystery on a scale fans have never seen before, now centered on a where rather than a who.
How To Get Away With Living
Season 4 will find the core characters struggling in the aftermath of the devastating events from Season 3. Annalise Keating — played by the dynamic #ViolaDavis — will remain at the center of the story, still reeling from losing the young man who was like a son to her:
"She’s definitely been beaten down, and we’re going to watch her rise from the ashes, literally, of last season. What’s exciting about the arc, and in watching Viola Davis act it, is there’s going to be more vulnerability... But at the same time, her public-facing persona has to be bad a–. ... And it will be exhausting for Annalise because her whole life, she worked so hard to rise to this powerful position, and it’s all been gone."
Viola Davis consistently nails playing a character with both palpable strength and vulnerability. It's promising to hear that all the complexities of her rewarding character development will be on display from the very beginning of Season 4, now in a position she's never found herself in before. The strength and vulnerability will be more real than ever at a time when she's stripped of the powerful position she created for herself, still coping with the loss of the person she cared and protected like a son.
Fortunately, Annalise will not be without a support system as a familiar and new character will be there to help her.
"Her mother is always this core emotional support system for her, and we’re going to see Cicely [Tyson] again. She’ll have a really big influence on Annalise moving on and putting that fight back in her."
Both Davis and Tyson received Emmy nominations for their performances in Season 3. Many of the show's most emotional scenes have taken place between Annalise and her mother Ophelia. Either Annalise or Ophelia have sought each other every season in their most desperate moments, providing one another with unparalleled strength and vulnerability.
In addition to Annalise's mother, Viola Davis's husband Julius Tennon will be making his debut on the show in the first episode:
"Julius is amazing, and he is in our premiere. He is on her side. It’s a really fun dynamic that they play, and it is surprising."
Expect the chemistry between Viola Davis and Julius Tennon to be amazing. Tennon's character remains shrouded in mystery but Nowalk's hints seem to point toward him being a positive figure from her past like Famke Janssen's Eve.
Beyond Annalise, other core characters will be left dealing with last season's tragedy and moving into the future in their own ways:
"Some people will be in a surprising place, but some people will just be enjoying the quiet, and we’re going to see some major changes for them over the first half of the season. But Laurel is one who a lot has changed for, and we’ll see that... [It’s] a month or so later, she’ll have to come to a decision about whether she wants to have the baby or not, so we’ll answer that, too."
Having one of the show's key characters as a parent in addition to the regular drama adds a whole new layer of game-changing potential. Incorporating babies into television shows can be tricky, which is why characters often lose the baby or the baby disappears from the show for long periods of time (think of Judith on The Walking Dead, or baby Neal on Once Upon A Time). In a Shonda Rhimes show, as progressive and open-minded as this one, it will be intriguing to see what direction is taken, whether it's an abortion, tragic loss of the baby, or commitment to raising the child amidst the drama.
The characters enjoying the quiet of this transitional period will likely be Connor and Oliver, and Asher and Michaela. Both couples have an opportunity to navigate the new stages of their relationships following Oliver's marriage proposal and Michaela's statement of reciprocated love to Asher in the Season 3 finale — at least until they're swept into this season's death and deceit.
How The Mystery Of Why Wes Died Ties In With Season 4 Clues
While viewers know who killed Wes and how they did it, the driving cliffhanger heading into Season 4 is why Castillo sent family friend Dominic to murder his daughter's boyfriend. This is purely speculation but I don't think it's because Wes got Laurel pregnant. No one knew Laurel was pregnant until she winded up in the hospital after the fire used as a cover-up. Castillo's decision could've been motivated by the upper-class, racist notion that his daughter couldn't date, perhaps one day marry and have a child with an African-American man who appears to have no family or inheritance.
What would be more interesting is for Castillo to discover that Wes is the son of a Mahoney and for that to be the reason behind the murder. With the reveal in the Season 3 finale that Charles Mahoney is the father of Wes and not Wallace Mahoney, and Annalise's emotional conversation with Wallace's wife Sylvia in which she stated "You are wrong about so much", it certainly appears the Mahoney family will continue to play a pivotal role. Considering that both the Mahoney family and Laurel's father are corrupt individuals involved in prominent business, it stands to reason that these families are bitter rivals. Thus, the death of Wes may have everything to do with his Mahoney lineage as Castillo would never let his daughter date, have a child with and eventually marry a Mahoney. I predict the where mystery will revolve around the Mahoney-Castillo rivalry, why it led to the death of Wes while also incorporating the show's surviving key players.
Season 4 of How To Get Away With Murder premieres on ABC September 28th at 10 PM.
What are you looking forward to most in Season 4? Sound off in the comments below!