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How to Get Away with Murder (naturally) dropped the bombshell of all bombshells in its midseason finale, revealing that Gabriel Maddox (Rome Flynn) was actually Sam Keating’s (Tom Verica) son from his previous marriage.
Now, we know very little about Sam’s pre-Annalise (Viola Davis) years, but we do know that he supposedly cheated on his previous wife with her, ultimately leaving the woman to marry Annalise. Up until now, there’s been no mention that Sam had ever had a kid with her, but apparently there was a son, and that son turned out to be Gabriel Maddox. Now the big question seems to be: How much does Gabriel know about how his father actually died, and how does he plan to use that knowledge if he has it?
TV Guide spoke to Rome Flynn about Gabriel’s relationship (or lack thereof) with Sam, upcoming flashbacks to his younger years, and just how much this kid knows about Sam’s murder and how Annalise and her students covered it up in Season 1.
The impressive we’ve gotten so far of Gabriel is he is this nice, principled, pretty decent guy in the first half of the season. Is that impression of him going to change now that we know who he is?
Rome Flynn: Well, there’s two different perspectives I would say. There’s the perspective of the people who are watching the show as fans and then there’s the perspective of the people that live in that world — Annalise and the K4 and all that. Now, I think that’s two different perspectives. I’d believe that the K4 would be intimidated by who Gabriel is, considering what we already know from previous seasons about Sam’s death and things of that nature. But I think it will be interesting when people watch the second half of the season as fans because they’ll find redeeming qualities in who Gabriel is, so it becomes this conflict of liking Gabriel and then also hating him because you love Annalise and you love these other characters so much. But this quest that he’s on, I think that people will be able to connect with it, so there will be two separate kind
of perspectives in that sense.
Speaking of that mission, what can you tease about his motives and what his interest in Annalise might be?
Flynn: I think there’s an idea that he went to Middleton for specific reasons. I think that it just aligned with his ideals. I think he’s actually passionate about being a lawyer, passionate about giving people a voice, and he’s also passionate about figuring out what happened with his father. I think they just kind of align and coexist together. I think going to Middleton was important for his future as a lawyer too. Annalise is the best of the best, so I think it just happened to be that she is who she was to Sam.
We as the audience know what happened to his father, but how much does Gabriel actually know about what went down?
Flynn: As an actor, I always think that I know what he knows, but every episode that I get it changes. Doors open and I’m like, “Maybe I don’t really know what he knows?” It’s exciting when I get the scripts; I can’t wait to open them because… he’s so good. The way that he’s been with the K4 and this group, he doesn’t give you anything. He doesn’t let you know if he knows anything. He doesn’t give anything away to you. He doesn’t give you any motives that you can see. Like “Damn he’s going after them,” or “he’s for them,” you just don’t know. I think it’s up in the air on what he knows, but I think he knows something.
We’ve heard Gabriel mention his mom a few times so far this season. What can you say about her and Gabriel’s relationship with her?
Flynn: I think we find a more human side of Gabriel in the latter half of the season. We do venture into who he is maybe a little bit more and who his mom is to him a little bit more. I think that even then people will understand and try to connect with what drives him. … I think she’s a focal point of a storyline that we don’t know yet. I can’t give you too much information on what their relationship is like but he’s obviously searching, and he’s searching for a reason… What does she know? Does she know anything? Those are the answers that I’m hoping you get in the second half of the season.
How much contact did he actually have with Sam growing up? I’d assume not a lot considering Annalise didn’t recognize him?
Flynn: You don’t really find out what he knows about Sam just yet or if he knows Sam at all. If he ever met him or anything like that. I will say in the first episode [back], we do have a young Gabriel. They cast him, and it’s actually Tom’s [Verica] real son, and he actually looks similar to me. In this first episode back, you get to see when Gabriel was a kid. I think it’s important to see that, an actual, visual representation of that because it will tell you a lot about what he knows about Sam or what he doesn’t know about Sam or if he ever wondered about Sam. I don’t know how much communication they’ve had… it’s still uncovering. I’m telling you, every episode I find out more information, so I anticipate I’ll get more information about their relationship, if they had one at all, pretty soon.
We got to see how Annalise reacted to finding out Gabriel was Sam’s son, but how do you think the K4 will react to the news?
Flynn: This brings a different sense of urgency between them. In the first half of the season, Michaela (Aja Naomi King) had gotten close to him, and maybe Laurel (Karla Souza), or the scenes that he had with Connor (Jack Falahee) in the classroom. I think that at this point, when they find out who he is, at least initially, there’s going to be a clear line drawn in the sand. Because they know things that he does not know… They know what happened to Sam. It’s a threat automatically. Anyone that’s close to that situation that’s a relative or close to Sam in any way, you’ve got to be a little bit scared. You’re talking about murder and going to jail for life.
Frank (Charlie Weber) was actually the one to recognize Gabriel on sight in the finale. Are we going to learn why Frank knew him, or knew of him?
Flynn: I think it’s common knowledge that Frank knows everything. There’s nothing he doesn’t know. He’s a plethora of knowledge, it’s crazy. … I think there’s definitely going to be conversations had between Gabriel and Frank in the sense of figuring out, when things do come to light, what Frank knows. That will be interesting between those two. There’s a lot of deception between those two.
Do you think Gabriel is genuinely interested in Michaela romantically?
Flynn: I think that’s to be seen. For me personally, I think that he actually does like her. I think that his quest may have gotten in the way of that. I don’t think it was his purpose to get her to kiss him or for that whole thing happened between them. I think if he did that he’d be a sociopath or something like that. I don’t believe him to be that way just yet. We’ll see, you never know. But I think there were moments in those scenes where he actually does adore who she is, how can you not? She’s very smart, he marvels at her beauty and her intelligence. I think he looks at her as someone that he’d like to be with. She aligns with his ideologies… There’s more to that, but maybe the story got in the way. Maybe we won’t be able to see a relationship between them flourish because of that, but we’ll have to find out.
How to Get Away with Murder returns Thursday, Jan. 17 at 10/9c on ABC.
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