[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers about Thursday's episode of How to Get Away with Murder. Read at your own risk.]
Coliver may be over for now, but you can be half-hopeful that they're still endgame.
That's because Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) was the first person revealed to be alive and kickin' in the flash-forward on Thursday's How to Get Away with Murder. Ergo, he is not the poor victim who died in Annalise's (Viola Davis) house fire.
At the end of the hour, Oliver frantically runs towards Annalise, asking "Is it true?" "Let's not let our minds go there," she says, covertly slipping him her burner phone to "wipe it clean," before the cops arrest her.
Let's not let our minds go where, Annalise? That Connor (Jack Falahee) might be dead? Who else would Oliver be that torn up about besides the guy whose heart he crushed to smithereens again, when Connor tried to get back together in the past timeline? And what's on that phone? We caught up with Ricamora to get the scoop.
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Congratulations on being alive.
Conrad Ricamora: [Laughs] Well, he's there the night of the fire. It's going to be a long night, so people need to hang in there and see what happens.
That would've been pretty cruel to promote you to series regular and then kill you off right away.
Ricamora: I mean, the show is called How to Get Away with Murder, so you kind of know what you're signing up for. It's not like Ugly Betty killing off somebody every week.
That would've been a completely different show. How much did Pete [Nowalk, the show's creator] tell you all about the mystery beforehand? Did he tell you you're alive at the end of Episode 2? Did you find out at the table read?
Ricamora: I found out at the table read. The writers like to keep it open. They follow their intuition as they're writing it and see where the story takes us. They don't really like to have a huge pre-planned way of writing the whole season, which I actually like. I come from a theater background. You do a show every night — beginning, middle and end — and this keeps it exciting.
What was the reaction at the table read? I'm assuming everyone found out at the same time.
Ricamora: Yeah, it was a surprise and a relief. Some people are still very concerned about their futures. [Laughs] I am too! You find out I'm there the night, but you don't know how I'm involved, you don't know what I know. I'm alive — but there might be more to it. The night is long! This is just one snippet of it. You never know how it's going to unfold.
Do you know who's dead? Have they told you?
Ricamora: They told us like a week ago. Secret, secret!
Were you surprised at who it is? Do you think it makes sense or is it something that will tie together by that point?
Ricamora: It's really heartbreaking and I think it's going to be pretty shocking and not what people expect. It's definitely heartbreaking. As I'm sure you know, it's somebody who's pivotal to the show.
Obviously when you shot the scene, you didn't know who it was, so were you playing it as if it was Connor on the gurney?
Ricamora: I think, for Oliver, he's concerned about everybody in that house now because he's become friends with everyone. He's working for Annalise. At that point, he's forged strong relationships with many people and of course Connor is going to be on his mind. But they are encountering a lot of come-to-Jesus moments this season. Things are a little rocky, so who knows if at that point he even cares if it's Connor. I actually don't even know.
What does Annalise give you and what do you do with it?
Ricamora: She gives me a phone — I don't know whose — and I'm interested to see how that plays out. It hasn't played out yet [from what we've shot]. We don't know, but I think that's a huge step to the dark side for Oliver. What does he do with that? She says "Wipe it clean" at the end of the episode and I think that's the most involved he's been in playing with the dark side a little bit. I'll be interested to see what he decides to do.
I like the contrast in Annalise and Oliver's relationship in the timelines. She's very annoyed by him in the flashbacks, like, "Ugh, fine, I'll hire him." But they seem close in the flash-forwards, although that could be the current situation they're in.
Ricamora: Yeah. It's interesting. We know that they've been working together for a while and they've had more interaction than they've ever had by the time the house fire rolls around. They definitely have a stronger relationship and are closer than when he first walks into the classroom and kind of makes a fool out of himself.
What's next for Connor and Oliver? Are you going to keep breaking Coliver fans' hearts?
Ricamora: [Laughs] I think they're figuring out where their boundaries are in their relationship. Oliver says he's still figuring out who he is. This huge life event has now changed his perception of who he is and what he wants. He also has a lot of unanswered questions about Connor that he's not comfortable with. Why was Connor so OK with him [deleting his Stanford acceptance]? Oliver doesn't know the full picture yet, but he knows something is not right. Connor is obviously heartbroken. I think it's going to take time for both of them to figure out what they each need and want.
Was there a part of Oliver that wanted Connor to break up with him? He knows what he did was wrong.
Ricamora: I think he sensed something's wrong in the relationship. And then Connor [forgave him] so easily and Oliver decided he wasn't willing in participate in a relationship like this. He realized he had become somebody he didn't want to be. I don't know if he consciously knew that he wanted Connor to break up with him, but he was going to a place where he didn't want to go with who he knows himself to be and what he holds dear.
They're the most romantic and idealistic couple on the show and it's sort of nice that they don't want to corrupt each other in a sense.
Ricamora: Yeah, I think it's a tough balance. Are there any times in a relationship where you keep secrets? Are you really protecting someone by holding back? I think that will be a fun theme that plays out this season.
How involved is Oliver going to be with the cases? Annalise is suspended, but she said that's not going to stop her from teaching her students.
Ricamora: Annalise is definitely at odds with the university president. She's got a few issues right now, with all the flyers with "Killer" on her face. She doesn't know who is putting those up. Of course she's a fighter and she doesn't accept their ruling. Oliver's been hired to help at the legal clinic and he's going to start out helping in a pretty tame way, but you've already seen at the end of the second episode that she has a burner phone at the scene of a crime and tells him to erase it. So it's like, what's the journey from working at the legal clinic, being like the IT guy there, to working at the scene of a crime being told to cover something up?
He's her new Frank (Charlie Weber). He's her new No. 2.
Ricamora: [Laughs] Maybe! He's got a long way to go. It'll take me a while to grow a beard.
Well, Frank shaved off his beard, so you're good.
Ricamora: Oh, yeah! That's right. Maybe I'll grow the beard to replace it!
Do you think Oliver needs to go to hacker rehab?
Ricamora: [Laughs] I think he likes it. He likes the rush. We even see it in our presidential election, people talking about hacking. It's such a huge topic right now. I think he likes it and that's a huge reason why he wanted to work for Annalise. Everything that she's asked him to do up until this point, he's gotten a taste of high-profile cases for someone that he really respects. I think Connor might want him to go to hacker rehab, but Oliver is too far gone for that.
How to Get Away with Murder airs Thursdays at 10/9c on ABC.