These days, sudden cliffhanger cancelations have become a bit of a rarity, with networks choosing to hand out final season orders instead of cutting shows off at the knees. It's not always the case as some shows still end up unexpectedly getting the axe, but in the case of How to Get Away with Murder, we're pretty sure ABC wouldn't be so cruel as to leave us dangling off that Season 5 cliffhanger.
When Season 5 ended, we were left wondering if Laurel (Karla Souza) and baby Christopher had been kidnapped, as both went suddenly and mysteriously missing in the final moments of the episode. The other possibility was, of course, that a mastermind like Laurel could have simply orchestrated the whole escape in order to disappear with her child. After all, she had been making noise all season about how she'd do anything to keep the consequences of their murderous behavior from affecting her son. On top of that, Annalise's (Viola Davis) boss, Emmett Crawford (Timothy Hutton), who'd just been very publicly framed for murder, was left gasping for breath on the floor of his office after a possible poisoning. If that wouldn't make the worst accidental series finale ever, we don't know what would! Luckily, showrunner Pete Nowalk understands and agrees.
"That's a huge mystery as we go into another season," Nowalk told TV Guide of Laurel and Christopher's uncertain fates, "which fingers crossed we'll get. Obviously, we wrote it with the plan that we would get another season. That would be a terrible ending."
ABC hasn't decided whether How to Get Away with Murder will return for Season 6 or not, but that's not necessarily anything to be alarmed about at this point. In previous years, renewals for the show have come in February, March and even May, so there's not a whole lot of method to the renewal madness. We're closer than ever to finding out with May upfronts approaching, but it does sound like Nowalk has plenty of story ideas for another season.
"I have plans, we're planning as if — you know these things can take time with the network and stuff, but I definitely am hopeful," Nowalk said.
As for what those plans are, Nowalk is unsurprisingly keeping all spoilers to himself, but it does sound like the recent arrival of the FBI in Middleton and their "Operation Bonfire" investigation will play a big factor in future storylines.
As you may well remember, the murder that kicked off all of this madness in Season 1 was Sam Keating's (Tom Verica) on the night of the Middleton University Bonfire. The fact that this investigation is titled "Operation Bonfire" coupled with Annalise taking the center position on the FBI's mystery board seems to indicate that they might know even more about how all of these murders are connected than we ever suspected. With the right evidence, they could take our murder club down for all their past misdeeds.
If that sounds like an "endgame" kind of storyline to you, you may be on the right track.
"I think the fact that the FBI obviously has been keeping track of them we now know means that this is not going to end easily," Nowalk said. "All of these seasons where they're like, 'OK, maybe now it's over,' it just means that someone's been making a case against them. That is the next challenge of the season. Can these people actually beat the FBI? Why hasn't the FBI charged them with anything yet? The FBI's probably just as corrupt as they are in our show. ... So yes, we're growing bigger, the stakes are higher. When that means the show ends, I don't know. I do think I'm promising that there has to be some repercussions for these people."
Taking on the FBI sounds like a meaty story that could last multiple seasons if necessary, so we can hold out hope that not only will Season 6 happen, it may not be the last. That being said, it would does feel like this investigation presents an opportunity to bring the story full circle for a nice clean ending. Either way, Nowalk says he does have firm plans about where the show is headed when it finally comes to a close... whenever the time comes.
"I'm so excited to tell you I do!" Nowalk said when we asked whether he knew yet how the show would end. "I wouldn't have been able to tell you that last week, but I do, and I love the idea. I haven't told anyone, I'm just sitting on it, and I would obviously like to write this show forever, but I'm also really excited that I have an ending that I think is really great!"