Major spoilers from the midseason finale of How To Get Away With Murder follow.
After months of speculation for who was under the sheet, we finally got our answer — and it was a complete shock. #HowToGetAwayWithMurder just killed off one of its main characters, if not the most central character within the show. Yes, Wes Gibbins (#AlfredEnoch) was found to be the victim of the fire at the home of Annalise Keating (#ViolaDavis). Each week leading up to the midseason finale, one character was revealed to have survived, and it seemed as though Wes was not involved.
However, fans of #HTGAWM know the showrunners love to use flashbacks and misleading timelines to throw viewers off. Well, it worked, because we did not see that coming!
What does this mean for the rest of the group?
Annalise is stuck in jail while the rest of the group is reeling from the news of Wes's death. As a boss, professor and overall leader of the group, Annalise is no longer there to protect anyone and ultimately calm them down.
With all the murder and legal troubles the Keating five have gotten themselves into, they are all ticking time bombs. With Wes gone, Connor (Jack Falahee), Michaela (Aja Naomi King), Asher (Matt McGorry) and Laurel (Karla Souza) will realize they are no longer invincible. Not to mention, the death of Wes will put Annalise over the edge, if she wasn't there already, considering she always felt responsible to Wes and always looked out for his wellbeing.
Michaela, Asher, Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) and even surprisingly Connor looked shaken over the news of Wes, but the most heartbreaking scene came when Laurel learned that he was the victim. Presumably pregnant with his child, she is now left alone in the hospital with no answers.
What does this mean for future of the show?
Besides the the shocking death of Wes, we learned from Nate's revelation to Annalise that Wes was dead before the house exploded. The second half of the season will tell what really transpired between the time Wes left the police station and ended up in the house. Laurel was the only other student to show up, so did she find Wes dead before she got caught in the fire? Bonnie (Liza Weil) was also talking to Frank (Charlie Weber) on the phone while he was outside watching the house burn — so were they possibly involved?
Besides figuring out who killed Wes, the second half will also heavily focus on Annalise's arrest, which will hamper the efforts to get answers. Broken, saddened and probably terrified, the group will have to come together and work harder than ever to protect one another. Don't expect to see Wes disappear from your screens just yet; he will definitely be involved in flashbacks. With much of the first two seasons focusing on Wes and his backstory, this also gives the show an opportunity to explore the rest of the characters.
How does this affect TV in general?
Flipping the narrative like this is a risk, one that many showrunners are afraid to take. Wes was seen as the moral compass of the show, and although he wasn't totally innocent, he always seemed to do what was right. Killing off big characters isn't new — I mean just watch The Walking Dead — but usually it does not occur this early. HTGAWM is only halfway through its third season and may have a lot more story to tell, especially with Shonda Rhimes attached to the show. Decisions like this could be really tough as HTGAWM executive producer told Entertainment Weekly in an interview,
"It was a horrible decision to have to make, because everyone really loves their job here, and I love them all doing their job. When it comes down to why I made the decision is because he is the heart of the show, and really I wanted to do something that felt impactful, and it impacts every character. That’s why it killed me to make the decision, but also why I made it, is because it really spins out everyone, and I really wanted something to change the DNA of the show."
Proving that a member of the main cast is not untouchable is refreshing for TV because there are too many instances when the stakes don't feel high enough because important characters are always protected. This event will keep viewers on their toes with the unpredictability. Although I am sad to see Wes go, I think the decision to kill him will pay off in the long-run in the terms of storytelling.
How To Get Away With Murder returns January 19th at 10 p.m. on ABC!
Were you surprised to learn that Wes was under the sheet? Comment below!