November 18, 2016 10:27 AM


Spoiler alert: major How to Get Away with Murder season 3 winter finale plot points revealed.

When Peter Nowalk made the decision to kill off a major character from his hit ABC drama, he wasn’t looking forward to sitting down with the actor to tell them that their character was going to die.

“It’s the hardest decision I’ve had to make on the show, but he smiled and told me he thought it was a good idea, which made me want to say ‘No its not! I’m changing my mind!’ ” Nowalk tells PEOPLE of revealing the news to Alfred Enoch, who plays Wes on HTGAWM. “Alfie is just the most gracious, professional, generous person. He instantly felt bad for the rest of the cast because they are all so close and he felt it’s almost easier to be in his shoes.”

Speaking to reporters about the finale, Nowalk reflects on saying goodbye to Wes and what fans can expect from the rest of season 3 when it returns Jan. 19.

Rich Polk/Getty Images for Point Foundation

When did you decide it was Wes that was going to die?
I didn’t know until like episode 7, which [we were working on] about when we were premiering. Every week I would think, “I don’t think it should be this person.” So I went with my gut and would talk about it with the writers and all that stuff but mostly I just put off the decision. I think when we revealed that Wes was alive in that interrogation room, that’s when I knew it should be him. But I put of the decision as long as possible.

Will we see him in flashbacks during the second half of the season?
Yes! We have to find out what happened to him in those hours before his death. [Having flashbacks is] a great storytelling technique that means we never really have to say goodbye to people. We still get to see Sam (Tom Verica) every once in a while. I’m sure we’ll see Rebecca (Katie Findlay) again some day. He’ll be in the show the rest of the season and who knows what we’ll do if we do another season. Maybe prequels!

Did the cast really not know what was happening this season?
I put them through a weird experience where they would just find things out at table reads. It was kind of an awful reality show we put them through. I think they were obviously very upset and that made me feel like a jerk.

What made you want to kill a character off?
To me it’s not about the shock, but it’s about the story and what it’s going to put the characters through: How can we torture the characters? It’s really emotional for all the characters, and they’re going to be forced to kill each other or love each other. Wes was such a centerpiece of the show and death has a profound affect on relationships.

Laurel (Karla Souza) will spend some of the rest of the season in the hospital recovering from the fire, but will we find out who the father of her baby is?
We’ll find that out in the first episode back. I didn’t want to do Bridget Jones’s Baby. Laurel has a huge decision to make. It’s fun to write how they are dealing with grief. They have to really grow up and she has a really big decision to make, which is hard.

Will Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) and Connor (Jack Falahee) get back together?
I think for sure. Obviously Oliver’s big question is that he knows a lot more now. I think whether he knew in the back of his head that things were fishy with Sam, I think now Connor has said too much. Oliver has a lot of power now to ruin them all or to help them. And he’s normal. So how is he going to react to this in a way that is normal? It’s refreshing to write that.

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How long will Annalise (Viola Davis) be in prison?
Longer than people might think. This isn’t going to be easy for her to get out of this. I think one of the things that Viola is always pushing us to do is “go even more rock bottom.” Annalise will have to put on a whole new mask in prison. She’s going to have to cope in different ways. Prisons are overcrowded and she’s got some cellmates. She seems excited to play it all and that’s when I know we’re going in the right direction.

Have you already decided how Wes died? Could he possibly have committed suicide?
Anything is possible. But, really, I don’t know. We have 4 episodes left [to write] so I’ll have to figure it out soon. It could be any one of our characters or someone outside of the group too. The only way I know how to do this job is to go episode to episode.

How to Get Away with Murder returns Jan. 19 on ABC.

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