Sam Keating’s body may be missing, but his baggage is just arriving — in the form of Marcia Gay Harden.
In the winter premiere of “How to Get Away With Murder,” Harden was revealed to be the sister of Sam (Tom Verica), aka the sister-in-law of Annalise (Viola Davis), Hannah Keating. And Annalise has finally met her match.
“First of all, it’s a woman who just never really embraced her in the family,” Davis told Variety along with a small group of reporters on the “HTGAWM” set. “I know so many relationships like that, especially interracial relationships….You’ll see that relationship be very contentious because it’s a woman that just never accepted me. She never saw me. She loved Sam’s ex-wife much more than she loved me.”
(Davis says there are no plans to cast Sam’s ex-wife at this point in the series.)
She continued, “You’ll see a lot of butting heads because there’s a resistance on Hannah’s part to admit that she never accepted me, and then there’s a resistance on my part of knowing that she’s on my side. And of course, she’s not because she suspects that I killed Sam. She’s the wrench.”
Along with Hannah’s potential sabotage, Prof. Keating may want to keep her eye on one of her own: Bonnie (Liza Weil).
“There’s going to be a fallout when she finds out what happened,” Weil teased, pointing to the fact that Annalise confided in Frank (Charlie Weber), while leaving Bonnie out. “Marcia Gay Harden’s character is going to be searching for answers, as well, and I think part of that search may be compelling to Bonnie.”
Another potential “wrench” in Sam’s “missing” (read: homicide) person case? The Keating Five. Davis said that any member could still falter under pressure, as seen in the midseason premiere.
“The stakes are now getting higher,” she said. “I always say that a person acts their nature and not their morals. I understand that that’s a big thing on TV — people really want likable characters. They want characters to do what they want them to do, but I just feel like when people are faced in certain situations, you just don’t know how they’re going to react. Their true nature comes out, and I think you’re going to see the true nature of all of them come out.”
Davis puts her money on Connor (Jack Falahee) or Michaela (Aja Naomi King) becoming the weakest link of the bunch, who already tried to turn themselves in on the Jan. 29th episode. “I’d put Connor right at the forefront of that.”
So why is Annalise covering up for her students, especially red-handed Wes (Alfred Enoch)?
“I think in her twisted way of logic, I think that is her way of protecting and showing love. I think those kids are basically her children, and I think that she feels responsible in some way,” Davis says. “There is a passionate and fervent campaign on Annalise’s part to cover up this murder and to not implicate these students. It’s fervent, and it gets more complicated as the episodes go along.”
She definitely has a particular attachment to Wes, says Davis. “There’s a connection that’s higher than your teacher/student connection. It’s almost a maternal one,” she says. “If she were in a healthier state of mind, she could be a really great mentor to Wes.”
But given all that’s going on — having just learned that her husband impregnated Lila, for example — Annalise is in far from a healthy state of mind. And the cracks in Annalise’s tough exterior are finally going to show. Davis says viewers can expect a breakdown coming soon.
“Yep, you’ll see it. It’s coming,” teased Davis, who recently won a SAG Award for her work on the show. “I encouraged the writers to show that because so often, I see women on television and they’re either really sexually promiscuous, they’re really strong because, you know, now we want to see the new woman, but I don’t see the consequences a lot of times…I don’t see the repercussions…and you’re gradually going to begin to see that.”
Plus, she’ll have to deal with the ongoing mystery of whether Sam is indeed Lila’s killer.
“We will find out for sure one way or another by the end of the season,” promises executive producer Pete Nowalk. “But I think the audience has really encouraged us to do this. You never know. Things can appear one way, and be completely different when you see it for the truth.”
In other words, look out for the Thursday night hashtag: #WhoKilledLila.
“HTGAWM” airs Thursday nights on ABC, as part of the net’s TGIT lineup.