When Gabriel Maddox was introduced at the end of How to Get Away with Murder Season 4, it seemed like he was going to be important. It was just impossible to say why. In the Season 5 premiere, he impressed Annalise and managed to get Frank's attention, but his significance to the story still isn't clear. One popular fan theory explains why everyone is so focused on the newbie: is Gabriel Maddox Bonnie's long lost son on HTGAWM?
Bonnie had an incredibly abusive childhood during which she was raped repeatedly by her father and other unknown men. In Season 4, it was revealed that she became pregnant was she was 15 years old and gave birth to a child whom she never saw; she was told by her father that the baby died. However, Nate discovered paperwork that indicated her son had actually survived, which means he could still be out there somewhere. The fact that this news was delivered around the same time Gabriel entered the scene had viewers wondering if Gabriel was Bonnie's son.
It also seemed suspicious that Frank zeroed in on Gabriel immediately and has been keeping tabs on him for some reason. But while there are a lot of question marks surrounding Gabriel's arrival, there isn't much evidence linking him to Bonnie.
The ages do seem to line up, which makes this theory more plausible. Gabriel is in his second year of law school, so he may be around 25 years old; actress Liza Weil is 41, which means Bonnie might be around the same age. If she gave birth to a child at 15, then that kid could very well be in his mid-20s by now. But neither Gabriel nor Bonnie's exact age has been stated on the show, and viewers don't even know if Gabriel is adopted. This whole thing could be a red herring.
Series creator Pete Nowalk wasn't giving anything away when he spoke to Deadline after the Season 4 finale. "I can't really tease too much," he said. "But just know that this was a genetic test for Bonnie and this child, so it's all related basically. All we know is Bonnie said in Episode 5 that she was told her child was born dead. So she's lying, or someone else is lying to Bonnie, it's all possible."
That doesn't provide any more proof that her child might be Gabriel. He could be related to a number of other characters; some fans have theorized that he's Annalise's son, or Sam's. He could be Wes' brother. Maybe he's an entirely new character who isn't related to anyone and the show is only trying to confuse its audience as it heads into a new season.
But regardless of who Gabriel could be biologically connected to, he does seem significant in some way. Frank referred to him as "her kid," which makes it feel like the "her" is someone the audience already knows. He also called someone else to update them on Gabriel as soon as he saw him, though the person on the other end of the phone is yet another secret. Frank could have been talking to Nate, who appears to be the only one who knows Bonnie's son is alive, but Nate was still investigating things in Episode 1. If he has any solid leads, he's not sharing them with viewers.
It's too early to tell how Gabriel fits into the story, which means any potential solution is possible.