Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) was last seen sitting down in a lecture hall to listen to Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and beg her to help get the class action she'd been working on all year into the right hands. Olivia's got some serious connections in the capital, but will it be enough to get justice for Annalise's clients?
TV Guide talked to How to Get Away with Murder showrunner Pete Nowalk to help figure it out.
Will fans who don't watch both shows be able to clue in and figure out what's been going on in each world?
Pete Nowalk: It's hard for me to really answer that because I'm such a big Scandal fan, so I understand everything that's happening. But I think for both episodes, people will be able to catch up. Most of the episodes are about the project that Annalise and Olivia are working on together about this class action to take on criminal justice reform, so we tried to make it as understandable as possible. It's really about these two very powerful, unique people meeting and figuring out a way to work together. They don't know each other, so the audience doesn't necessarily have to know either of them.
I've been dying to see the shows crossover since Day 1. Why did it take so long to make it happen and why was now the right time?
Nowalk: I never considered doing a crossover. I think I was asked about it in the first season, and I was like, "No, they're different universes, they're different shows, they're very different characters." What changed for me was the storyline we're telling with Annalise this season very organically had her cross over into Washington D.C and Olivia's world, so when we figured that out, I went to Shonda and said, "Hey, FYI Annalise's story this year could cross over with Scandal." And she was like, "Oh, interesting because Olivia's story sort of matches that as well." It's hard for people to believe, but it came about very organically. I think both of us were even a little hesitant to do it because we didn't want it to feel forced. So we waited and we waited and we waited until we got to the episodes we were writing and we were like, "Actually these match up perfectly, let's take a swing and give people like you what they want."
We were introduced to Olivia as a "fixer," but how is she going to fix this class action that's essentially dead in the water?
Nowalk: The journey for Olivia in the first hour — for both Olivia and Annalise — is to get the case heard at the Supreme Court. That doesn't just happen very easily. There's a lot of Washington D.C insider trading that has to go on. So, who better to handle that than Olivia Pope? That's not Annalise's world, and a lot of conflict can come from that. This is Annalise's baby. She's been shepherding this class action for months — for an entire season. She now has to rely on Olivia Pope, who's going to say, "This is my world, my rules, so we're going to do things my way." Obviously if you've watched How to Get Away with Murder, you know that might not go over so well with Annalise.
So we can expect to see some head butting in this crossover?
Nowalk: A lot of head butting.
Is it sort of an understatement to say that Michaela (Aja Naoimi King) is excited to meet Olivia and Fitz?
Nowalk: That's definitely an understatement. I think what was so fun about writing that and having Michaela cross over into the world is we just knew how starstruck she would be. Obviously to the Scandal players going into the oval office isn't a big deal. But for Michaela and for Annalise, they're the big leagues. It's fun to see them sort of cowed and impressed by the pomp and circumstance of D.C.
Will more How to Get Away with Murder characters get to interact with Scandal characters?
Nowalk: Yes! Olivia and Annalise are very busy together, but we'll see our students — as I call them, our K-5 — they'll meet Marcus (Cornelius Smith Jr.) and they'll be cowed and awed by Olivia Pope as well.
Tackling the justice system, even in a fictional setting, is a huge issue. Do you guys hope to facilitate any change or awareness by digging so deeply into this issue?
Nowalk: I think that's always the hope, but I don't think we assume we're going to affect any change. A lot of times we just write what we're interested in... It's really just about writing things that feel relevant and timely and also really fit with both of these characters. I think Annalise and Olivia both feel very strongly about this issue, so that's a place where they can find a bond and agree to put aside their differences and work together to do something good. Whether the audience takes away a good message or not, I can't control that, but I'm really proud of what we're saying in this episode.
Will we get to see the fallout of Frank (Charlie Weber) confronting Sandrine (Lolita Davidovich) about Wes (Alfred Enoch)?
Nowalk: That storyline, we move the ball forward just a little bit in the crossover episode since it's mostly about the Scandal. We'll find out what Sandrine said to Frank and what her reasoning was for meeting with Wes. We'll see what Frank does with that information.
I've been wracking my brain to figure out where the hard drive could be, but I can't come up with a theory that doesn't sound insane. Can you tease where or who we should be looking at?
Nowalk: I'm sure your theories are really good. I'm sure they're not crazy! We will find out who has the hard drive very soon. Obviously it's a surprise to our characters and the audience. I'm glad you're keeping track of that because that is really the thing that sort of gets Laurel her baby back. Keep watching.
My craziest theory was Wes has been alive the whole time and he has it, but that's mostly because I want to see Alfred Enoch again.
Nowalk: Speaking of that, you might just get to see him again. So get excited.
The two-hour How to Get Away with Scandal crossover airs Thursday, March 1 at 9/8c on ABC.