During Thursday's How To Get Away With Murder midseason finale, "Live. Live. Live.," the show featured one of the most graphic scenes to appear on a network television show: audiences saw the lifeless body of Laurel's (Karla Souza) premature baby.
The baby was born in an elevator. Annalise (Viola Davis) pried the doors open, but was too late. She had to perform CPR on the baby while waiting for the paramedics. In its recap, The AV Club called it "one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen on network television."
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter after the show aired, showrunner Pete Nowalk said he this was all planned from the beginning and not specifically to shock the audience.
"I never know whether people are going be surprised or not. I more just know that that's what I think happened," Nowalk explained. "I want people to find it believable and stuff, or not be surprised to the point that they don't believe it, but it's so out of my control. I have no perspective on how you all watch the show. Like, I think you're going to be shocked and you're not and vice versa."
Nowalk agreed with THR that the scene was one of the most dramatic moments in the show's history. He said they originally planned to cut away from the scene, but he didn't want to leave Souza's "gripping and horrifying and nauseating" performance behind.
"I was shocked by what I saw too," Nowalk said. "I still am every time I see it and I know it's really uncomfortable for people but I found that very — any time I'm shocked I'm like okay, 'I want more of this.'"
The identity of the baby's father is still unknown, but Nowalk told TVGuide that we'll find out in the next episode. There's also going to be trouble between Frank (Charlie Wever) and Laurel since it was his shove that led to the early delivery.
"Frank and Laurel are in a very complicated place, and I think their romantic life all season has really taken a backseat to the plot mechanisms of their life," Nowalk said. "There's a lot to dig through you'll see. There's even going to be new stuff for them to deal with that might keep complicating their relationship."
How to Get Away With Murder returns to ABC on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.