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How to Get Away with Murder's Aja Naomi King on That "Fishy" House Fire Reveal

Plus: Why is Michaela's mom visiting her?

Joyce Eng

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Thursday's episode of How to Get Away with Murder. Read at your own risk.]

Michaela's relationship with her mother is still in disrepair on How to Get Away with Murder, but at least Masher is back on.

Michaela (Aja Naomi King) and Asher (Matt McGorry) took a big step in their relationship on Thursday's episode, dropping the "L" word on each other -- as in, "I like you." The emotional confession was juxtaposed with Michaela's complicated relationship in the future timeline with her adoptive her mother Trishelle (Brett Butler), whom Michaela scolds to remain in her apartment and "don't steal anything" while she searches for Asher.

Who's dead on How to Get Away with Murder? Ranking the possible victims

And yes, Asher is alive (just like we predicted) -- and he reveals a major detail about the night of the house fire: Annalise (Viola Davis) had called him, Connor (Jack Falahee) and Laurel (Karla Souza) to come over to her house earlier that night. Did Annalise lure them to a death trap?!?!?! Probably not. But we caught up with King to get more scoop -- and what you can expect from Michaela's backstory and relationship with Asher.

I like that Michaela and Asher said "I like you" to each other instead of "I love you." It has greater meaning and it's like a big baby step. What's your take on that?
Aja Naomi King: Yeah, definitely, that was a really big step. When we were doing that scene, it was just so nice to see that push and pull of what these two people want and if they can be what the other needs. Having that little bit of reveal with where we're coming from with our different backgrounds and where our families have been and how they've treated us and made us feel, and being able to finally able to share that in a more emotionally close way with each other as a means of saying, "We could be each other's family maybe." I just thought that was really sweet and it was nice to have that scene with Asher -- just more serious and really touching on what we're going through and what we need from each other.

I feel like it was hard for her to hear him say, "You're my family," but it was also something she has wanted to hear, because now we know she didn't grow up in the best environment. She felt isolated and unloved.
Exactly. And it really puts it into perspective why she admires Annalise so much, coming from that kind of a background where you have been needing something like that and it hasn't been around. Being that she doesn't really get it from Annalise and Asher is standing right her kind of offering it to her, it's like, "But what that even really mean?" But also she kind of wants to take that exploration with him because there are some really strong feelings there and there is a connection there, even though she tries to deny it sometimes.

Can we assume they're still together in the future? She was very worried about him.
King: Well, on this show, I don't think anything is safe to assume. [Laughs] Anything can happen. I'll just say that.

When will we find out why Michaela's mom is visiting her?
King: We will dive into that a little bit more. That was the big, fun surprise -- all of the sudden Michaela's adoptive mother is there! We do dive into exactly how she gets there and that might put your --- hmm, let me stop myself! [Laughs] I'm going to end the sentence with that. We get to see more of Michaela's mother.

Aja Naomi King and Brett Butler, How to Get Away with Murder

Aja Naomi King and Brett Butler, How to Get Away with Murder

Richard Cartwright, ABC

Does she steal anything? Michaela told her not to steal anything, which is not something you often hear kids tell their parents.
[Laughs] Yeah, Michaela told her not to steal anything, and that alone -- having to say that to your own mom -- should really give you a sense of what their relationship has been like.

Last week, Michaela said, "I am who I am in spite of my family." Do you think she is who she is in spite of them or because of them or both?
I think she is very much who she is in spite of them. The more we learn about where we learn about where Michaela's come from and what she's done to get to where she is, we really do see that her family situation hasn't been a very supportive one and she's had to change herself in order to find a way to succeed in the world. I feel like that's something we've touched on in previous seasons, kind of a façade that she's had to put up in order to survive and be successful. We definitely will start to get a sense of that when we see more of Trishelle. It's a broken relationship she has with her mom and her family.

She also said that she "escaped them." Does she mean that figuratively or literally? Did she actually run away from home to reinvent herself so she's no longer bayou trash?
I think it's a complicated thing that we will continue to explore - what that "escape" really means.

Does Michaela know who her birth parents are?
Excellent question. [Laughs] Which I'm sure we will both find out as the season continues.

Will we meet her dad, Trishelle's husband?
We've talked about that a little bit and what that might look like, but I don't think we've quite figured out how we would bring that into play. So if not this season, maybe next season. ... Right now, we're going to dive into the whole mom thing.

Asher reveals that Annalise called and asked him, Connor and Laurel to go over to her house before the fire. When will we learn more about that call and why she wanted them to go over?
That is also something that will be coming along. The thing that I love is, Michaela hears that information, and all of the sudden, for her, it's like, "Why would Annalise do that?" And now the house is on fire.

Yeah, Annalise right now looks super fishy. And Michaela knows Laurel was found, so she could think Connor is the dead person.
Exactly. That's something that could potentially cause a genuine rift between them if Michaela begins to believe that Annalise might've put the only people she holds dear in danger. She does look super fishy! [Laughs]

What can you say about who's #underthesheet and what was your reaction when you found out?
I was -- I am -- devastated. I will continue to be devastated. It's going to be a really hard one for everyone.

How much is the death going to impact the show?
I think the death is going to impact the show greatly, but there are still so many things that will have to be figured out, which I of course leave to Pete [Nowalk, showrunner] to do so, since he's commander-in-chief of everything going on this world. ... This night, this house burning down, there are so many other surprises coming up. It is truly and utterly insane. I know I can barely take it, so I'm not sure how our audience is going to be able to handle it all.

Will Michaela ever tolerate Asher's dancing?
You know, Asher's dancing... [Laughs] Well, in the episode at Wes' (Alfred Enoch) birthday party, I felt really bad because there was some Michaela-Asher dancing that went down that didn't make it into the final episode. It was really great.

She was drunk there. She was ready to get down.
Oh, yeah! Michaela likes to get the dancing in as well!

How to Get Away with Murder airs Thursdays at 10/9c on ABC.