(Spoiler alert: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen the Season 4 finale of “How to Get Away With Murder.”)
OK, so you just finished the Season 4 finale of “How to Get Away with Murder,” what are you going to do next? Google “Who the hell is Gabriel Maddox?” of course. While we can’t fully answer that question for you, we can tell you as much as creator Pete Nowalk was willing to share about the new character — played by Rome Flynn — with reporters after a screening of the episode on Wednesday.
“He’s cool. He’s mysterious. I’m excited,” Nowalk said.
This enigma of a mid-twenties man is introduced in the final moments of Thursday’s episode, as Frank (Charlie Weber) is going for a prospective student tour of Middleton University (shocker!) and overhears Gabriel giving his full name to a guide for the law school. Frank takes out his cellphone to call someone (we don’t know who, obviously) and says, “Hey, looks like the good times didn’t last too long. Her kid’s here.” Nowalk notes that that is important.
“We really like to play with the pronouns here,” he said. “Obviously, Gabriel has a mother and Frank knows of that mother, or knows the mother. So that is a huge mystery and we’re going to be giving hints about it all next season.”
Yes, while “How to Get Away with Murder” has yet to be officially renewed for a fifth season, Nowalk is operating as if it has been and has plotted out some of Gabriel’s arch.
“My instinct now is it’s gonna be a little bit of a mystery,” Nowalk said. “It won’t be too long, but I think — you know, Frank seems to know who he is. But I don’t know who else does on the show. It’s going to be really fun to slowly — I want people to get to know Gabriel before we know his origins.”
Gabriel’s introductory scene is juxtaposed with a few others, including one of Annalise (Viola Davis) rocking Laurel’s (Karla Souza) baby and singing “Shoo Turkey.” Is this significant? Of course it is.
“I think a lot of the show is actually about being a parent,” Nowalk said. “In a weird way, I think Annalise has been forced into parenting the Keating Five. One of her wounds is the fact that she lost her own child. And now here is Wes’ baby. So it’s really since the pilot we’ve been hitting on this theme.”
“And what I loved about Annalise’s arc this season is she went home and needed to be parented by her mother and then take a parenting role with her and where they sang that song ‘Shoo Turkey’ in the premiere,” Nowalk said, noting the recycling of the tune in the finale. “So that works all on its own to me as a real journey of growth for Annalise and she kind of rose from the ashes this season. The placement of Frank and Gabriel and all that stuff is obviously to make you ask the questions. So I think they’re good questions to ask.”
Before the finale ends, we also see glimpses of the files the recently-deceased Denver (Benito Martinez) had been keeping on Annalise’s crew, including one for Bonnie (Liza Weil), with a note that said “Kid Alive?” with a matched DNA test. So is that “kid” Gabriel?
“I can’t really tease too much about that,” Nowalk said. “Just to know that it was a test. That was a genetic test for Bonnie and this child. So it’s all related, basically. And all we know is Bonnie said in Episode 5 that she was told her child is dead. [Either] she’s lying, [or] someone else is lying to Bonnie. It’s all possible.”