'How to Get Away with Murder' season 3 news: Cast, EP talk major character exit

Promotional image for the ABC series "How to Get Away with Murder" | Facebook/How to Get Away with Murder

In its midseason finale, "How to Get Away with Murder" ("HTGAWM") season 3 finally revealed the identity of the house fire victim it had been teasing since the season premiere. To the dismay of many fans all over, the dead body Annalise (Viola Davis) recognized in the season 3 opener was that of her law student, Wes Gibbins. This means that "HTGAWM" actor Alfred Enoch's time on the ABC series had come to an end.

Because the identity of the victim was not revealed to the cast until almost the end, they took the surprising exit of Enoch hard. "It was fairly devastating," Davis told Entertainment Weekly.

"I think all of us knew that no matter who it was, it was going to be devastating, but it was extremely upsetting," said Liza Weil, who plays Bonnie Winterbottom. Charlie Weber, who plays Frank Delfino, also said that he was devastated, echoing a sentiment of the rest of the cast.

Enoch's exit was made that much more impactful because thanks to a tricky bait and switch the writers pulled, viewers — and even the cast members — believed that Wes was safe. For its third season, "How to Get Away with Murder" employed a clever way of keeping its viewers glued to the show throughout the season. Beginning with the season 3 premiere, which revealed that someone close to Annalise would die in the finale, the show had crossed off one or two characters in the possible victim list, narrowing the options down until the end.

However, the Nov. 3 episode of "HTGAWM" showed Wes seemingly alive and plotting to turn on Annalise. At the time, viewers had no idea that this scene took place prior to the house fire in which Wes was killed.

According to the Weil, even she was "totally fooled" by show creator Peter Nowalk, who masterminded the bait and switch. The actress recounted that she saw Enoch the day after the episode aired and expressed her relief that he survived the house fire at the end of the season. But her joy was short-lived. "He took me aside like 20 minutes later and was like, 'I have to tell you something: It's me, it's a trick with time.'"

In an interview with EW, Nowalk said that he understood if people were upset about the bait and switch. "Part of the DNA of the show is that we're always playing with time," he explained.

"You don't know where it is in place and time until we tell you," he added. "To me, that's the fun of the show, the ride of it," he said.

"How to Get Away With Murder" season 3 will return on Jan. 19, 2017, at 10 p.m. EST on ABC.