Let the bad times roll! See, before shows like Mr. Robot, UnREAL, or Scream Queens confirmed that viewers were apparently starved for ultra-misanthropic television, a nasty little number called How To Get Away With Murder enjoyed a prime spot in our ink-black hearts. Though chatter about its decadent storylines and amoral premise was soon drowned out by the rise of Empire, make no mistake: Season 1 of HTGAWM was more than worthy of our obsession until that point. A weekly procedural blended with a season-long whodunnit, it’s a compelling, slick, and whiplash-inducing package. The one major downside? Its coldness verged on Siberian at times. But that’s where Viola Davis comes in.
There’s a reason Davis took home an Emmy last week: She oozes more humanity from a single wordless glance than everyone else on this show combined. As Professor Annalise Keating she’s so charismatic and compelling that her students — and we the viewers — are willing to follow her to the ends of the earth even though she actively ruins the lives of those around her. In fact, this week’s Season 2 premiere openly acknowledged this, as several characters pointed out how much worse off they were for having gotten involved with Keating, yet by the end they were all dancing the pain away together in a nightclub. And here’s the kicker: We understood why. Annalise is f—ing amazing.
“It’s Time To Move On” was like HTGAWM on steroids. A truly daunting number of plates were spun: Both of last season’s murders are still in play and this episode also revealed the culprit behind Rebecca’s murder while also introducing a huge new season-long case AND a flash-forward mystery in which none other than Annalise is shot nearly to death! All that, plus Connor nudity and a lesbian kiss, so yeah. Welcome back to ABC’s heart of darkness. Let’s talk about it!
This show is edited like an hourlong montage, but the first few flashes were unsettling ones: Rebecca, tied up in Annalise’s basement, suffocating in a plastic bag. We know her corpse will be discovered under the stairs later, so it’s not like we could even cross our fingers for a last-minute rescue. No, instead a character we grew to know and care about was dying before our eyes, no big deal.
The discovery her corpse and subsequent cover-up by Frank and Annalise was then intercut with the trademark HTGAWM lecture hall scene. It had been apparently ten days since the events of the finale, and the Keating 5 were back to their personality-driven retorts for all of Annalise’s rhetorical questions about getting away with murder. Except for Wes, who arrived late to class and was NOT taking sh*t from Annalise today.
As far as he knew Rebecca was still alive and had simply vanished, but more than that he knew Annalise was being shady about the whole thing and didn’t feel super compelled to pretend like things were fine.
The same could be said of the rest of the gang! Not only were they very exhausted from constant murder cover-ups, they were back to openly despising each other. Michaela and Laurel even started having a slap-fight and Frank had to separate them. By now that’s a major hallmark of this show: The characters mostly hate each other yet spend all their time together. It’s no wonder Annalise had to shout at them and remind them this “internship” was a privilege and they should GTFO if they don’t like it. But her shouts were interrupted by the arrival of the best person:
Famke Janssen! She is the best! Meet Eve, an estranged ‘friend’ that Annalise had contacted to represent Nate in his murder trial, because oh yeah, Nate was still on trial for the murder of Annalise’s husband! Anyway, Annalise and Eve clearly had a past, but it wasn’t clear what it was. But Famke Janssen was immediately perfect in the role, as she has the star power and presence to stand opposite Viola Davis for at least a few episodes.
So then Connor flashed his junk at Oliver, but Oliver wasn’t interested because he had tested positive for HIV and Connor’s PReP regimen hadn’t kicked in yet. Or something? Look, the important thing to know was that I did not expect this kind of frank discussion about living with HIV to be a plotline on network television, but now it is, so that’s something! Also, naked Connor, which nobody is mad about.
So, in a very welcome break from all the long-running plotlines, there was a kinda-sorta case-of-the-week. It involved a pair of siblings accused of murdering their wealthy parents. But the twist this time was that they already had a lawyer and Annalise wanted the job so bad that she enlisted her interns to get that lawyer fired so SHE could represent them instead. To do this, Laurel procured alleged evidence and slipped it to their lawyer in the ladies room. After it was later revealed to be doctored footage, the lawyer was humiliated and fired. That’s how it’s done, folks!
I guess Bonnie and Asher are still a thing, and not only that, but everyone else knew about it. Problem was, Asher seemed kinda over it now. Ah, romance.
Speaking of romance, Nate was still not super stoked that Annalise had framed him for murder. Framing your lover for murder is one of the biggest faux pas in dating. And since Eve wasn’t super thrilled about doing Annalise any favors, she declined to represent Nate after he threw a tantrum in front of her. But Nate was right to be dubious of anything related to Annalise, in my opinion. Unless it was advice about wigs, because then I would find her 100 percent trustworthy always.
Michaela had a weird scene in which she hit on the brother accused of killing his parents (It was the same guy, right? I honestly am not sure, this show is literally dark), but then he said he was gay, and then she refused to speak to him after that. Also she is either catfishing or being catfished by someone named Eggs911, so Michaela is definitely leading a rich and full life lately.
Except… whoops! Frank’s being shady and setting up a fake dating profile for her. But why?? Is he Eggs911? Or just bored and killing time between torso waxings?
One of the more interesting things we learned about Frank last season was that he had been the one who murdered the sorority girl. But he did NOT murder Rebecca, he claimed, and wanted to know which of the Keating 5 had. So this meant that most of this episode he trained his watchful eye on Wes in the attempt to prove he’d been the one. But then Laurel came calling at a late hour and aroused his suspicion when she only wanted to talk about the case and not do sex, so Frank decided that SHE was probably the killer. But she wasn’t! Because Annalise suddenly realized who was.
Bonnie had murdered Rebecca! And her reasoning was something along the lines of “Just cuz.” Seriously, when we saw the full flashback, it was basically Bonnie explaining calmly to Rebecca that even though everybody trusted Rebecca, Bonnie still believed she was a murderer and decided she needed to stop the cycle of violence (or whatever) by murdering her. I frankly did not understand Bonnie’s motives at all, so my main takeaway here is that Bonnie is a mega psycho. But on this show, just because we learn someone is a murderer doesn’t mean anything will change. Annalise seemed kinda ticked, but you better believe Bonnie will be back in the office like nothing had happened. Same with Frank. That’s the problem with this show, sorta: It hinges so much on the whodunnit aspect, but then we’ll just find out one of the characters did it and nothing happens, no repercussions. Life goes on. I don’t know.
After her convo with Bonnie, Annalise was feeling bewildered and bedraggled, so she decided to track down Eve at her penthouse apartment and have a heart to heart. But that’s when we learned the true extent of their past friendship: THEY HAD BEEN LOVERS. That’s right, back in law school they had been in love, and if that wasn’t implausible enough, then Eve claimed that back in the day Annalise used to laugh and smile sometimes! Do you believe that? Anyway, all that talk of old flames called for a rekindling!
Yep: Annalise’s new love interest was a lady. A lady played by Famke Janssen. Man, this show is a treasure.
There was still the matter of that case Annalise reaaaaally wanted. But when she pitched herself to the accused murderers, they expressed concern that a woman currently dealing with the trial of her husband’s murderer might not do a great job. But then Annalise heavily implied that, hey, maybe SHE had been the real murderer, and you don’t see HER on trial do you? Nailed it. Sold.
I’m not sure I understood this part, but after the key witness against the siblings was murdered in her car, they celebrated by, uh, painting and going jogging? But the painting was a recreation of a photo from a life insurance pamphlet? Was that a tip-off that they had murdered their parents for money? Or is it silly to make any assumptions from all the red herrings a season premiere might contain? Who knows!
So even though Eve had agreed to finally represent Nate (which, uh, might be awkward when Annalise takes the stand), that now looked like a problem seeing as Asher had tipped off the prosecutor about it. That’s called a conflict of interest, friends!
Then all the remaining Keating 5 (the ones who’d been involved in the murder) got ominous texts from Annalise instructing them to meet in a secret underground location. When they got there they found out that (a) Annalise has a WONDERFUL clubbing wig, and (b) they were at the back entrance of a night club and it was dance o'clock!
The theme of this episode was that in order for all of them to stay sane they were just going to have to let go of the past and move forward and also dance with each other even when they don’t want to. Pretty good theme! Even Wes seemed to feel at ease around Annalise. He still felt like Rebecca’s absence was fishy and that Annalise knew what was up, but it appeared he was sort of ready to just trust Annalise that it was for the best. Their quasi-mother-son bond remained strong.
Oh, then came the flash-forward! We were suddenly two months in the future, at the mansion owned by those possible murderous siblings, there was a gunshot, we saw Wes sprinting across the lawn, and then Annalise wheezing to death on the rug covered in blood splatter! What happened! I’m guessing we will find out in 2 to 14 episodes, so stay tuned!
“It’s Time to Move On” was a directive for Annalise’s students, but for the rest of us we will not be moving on from this show. Sure, it’s dark and amoral and outrageously complicated, but what’s life without a few challenges? Great soundtrack and engaging editing flourishes, sure, but make no mistake, this is challenging television at the top of its game. So glad it’s back.
What did YOU think of the HTGAWM season premiere?
How to Get Away With Murder airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.