'How to Get Away with Murder': Inside that surprising reveal

'Murder' stars Viola Davis as a law professor whose students seem to be involved in a complicated criminal situation.

Nicole Rivelli/ABC/AP
'How to Get Away With Murder' stars Viola Davis (center).

On Sept. 25, ABC premiered its new Thursday night lineup consisting entirely of programs that are produced by Shonda Rhimes.

The network leads off with the long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” which is entering its eleventh season, at 8 p.m.; followed by the hit drama “Scandal,” now in its fourth season, at 9 p.m.; and ending with the new show “How to Get Away with Murder,” which stars Viola Davis, at 10 p.m.

“It’s a show I never would have thought of in a million years,” Rhimes said of “Murder” in an interview with the Associated Press. “But I feel like it fits exactly in the [Rhimes’ production company] ShondaLand brand.”

“Murder” stars Davis as a law professor, Annalise Keating, who teaches a criminal law course at a Philadelphia college. Davis was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in the 2008 movie “Doubt” and for a Best Actress Oscar for the 2011 film “The Help.” “Murder” creator Peter Nowalk recently discussed working with Davis in an interview with Variety

“You write a character on the page and you think its complex and three dimensional but it’s not, until she turns it on,” he said. “[Working with her is] the luckiest thing that ever happened to me.”

(Spoilers for the season premiere of “Murder” follow…) 

On the show, school student Lila Stangard is discovered dead and Annalise’s students quickly become involved in crimes outside the classroom – the show flashes forward to an incident in which four of Annalise’s students are burying the body of Annalise’s husband, Sam Keating. Future episodes will presumably reveal who else, if anyone, is involved with the crime.

In an interview with TV Guide, Nowalk discussed revealing the identity of the victim in the first episode.

“I never wanted the [identity] to be a secret throughout the season," he said. "I think it's much more intriguing and interesting to show who it is and [then] show how we get there." 

As for the format of the show moving forward, Nowalk said there will be a case for each episode as well as the overarching murder mysteries.

“I love the cases of the week,” he said. “Especially if we're raising so many questions in other story lines, I want to give people answers in other ones. It's a little bit of something for everyone.”

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