Shonda Rhimes's "universe" is set to get a little smaller in a very big way on Thursday, March 1st at 10 p.m. ET as TGIT series Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder are finally set to cross over. The two-episode event will serve as the first meeting between Kerry Washington's Scandal fixer Olivia Pope and and Viola Davis's HTGAWM law professor Annalise Keating.
Here's ABC's first-look at the Scandal/HTGAWM crossover:
"Lahey v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" (written by Morenike Balogun & Sarah L. Thompson; directed by Zetna Fuentes): As Annalise's (Viola Davis) class-action case hangs in the balance, a meeting with the esteemed Washington D.C. fixer, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), proves to be crucial in getting the opportunity to argue her case before the nation's highest court. Meanwhile, Bonnie (Liza Weil) discovers concerning information pertaining to Simon (Behzad Dabu) that threatens to expose what really happened during night he was shot. Kerry Washington and Cornelius Smith Jr. guest star.
Earlier this year, HTGAWM creator Peter Nowalk discussed some of the specifics of the upcoming crossover event:
DH: How did the idea about a Scandal-How To Get Away With Murder crossover come about?
NOWALK: At the beginning of the season, my writers and I were planning out Viola's entire arc and something in her story organically came up that was very appropriate for Scandal. When I went to Shonda, she heard it. I said, we don't have to do it, Viola's arc doesn't need this, but it's possible that their stories could cross really organically. She actually pulled up a clip of something from Scandal and their side of the story coalesced perfectly. So it was one of those serendipitous things where we both realized it was good for both characters, and it almost felt like we had been planning it since last season.
At that point, we just thought about it because we didn't want it to feel forced, and we just wanted it to happen really naturally. And then if anything bumps along the way, we just won't do it. We kept getting closer and closer, and it just made more and more sense. I will say, the Scandal read-through, I, as an audience member, just found it so refreshing and fun, and it really felt like Annalise fit in that episode really well. So now the pressure for us for Murder is just to match that level of excitement that they created.
DH: Is it fair to say that Annalise and Olivia will team up to do something together?
NOWALK: I don't think we want to give that away yet. If I were a viewer, the thing I would want to see is Kerry and Viola in a scene together, that was really the reason to do it. To have storyline together and really shed light on both of their characters in a new way. That, of course, means that Annalise is in Olivia's world during the Scandal episode, so she'll be meeting the Scandal characters, and Olivia is in the Murder world, and she'll be meeting some of the Murder characters. You'll see that crossover.
DH: What was the reaction of Kerry and Viola, of the writers on the two shows to the news of a crossover?
NOWALK: What's lovely about working with the writers on Scandal and vice versa is that we all know each other, and we all have worked together, and so, for me, it was really fun to get to see what their process is and get to just hang out with my old friends who we never get to see each other because we're all so busy.
For the actors, I've heard secondhand that Kerry was really excited when Shonda told her. Viola had an instant smile on her face, and I think they've wanted to work together for a really long time outside of doing publicity. So I think it was really fun for both of them, even though I will say I have to give them both credit. They're working double stories in these episodes because they added a whole other episode to their schedule. So they're very tired right now, as they should be, but I think in the end, it will be something really memorable for Shondaland, and I'm loving it. It feels like a boost of energy for us.