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‘How to Get Away with Murder’ Review: “Anna Mae”

Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor

How to Get Away with Murder aired its season two finale this week and it will surely hold fans over until the hit drama returns this fall on ABC. Last week fans watched as Laurel (Karla Souza) let slip to Annalise (Viola Davis) that Frank (Charlie Weber) was the one who killed Lyla. With secret after secret piling up, How to Get Away with Murder brought fans to an epic season two conclusion in the latest episode entitled “Anna Mae.”

Since her guest starring role in season one, fans have been clamoring for Cicely Tyson’s return to How to Get Away with Murder. Season two answered fans prayers as Annalise went running home to her Mama. Tyson makes her triumphant return to How to Get Away with Murder this week as fans learn more about Annalise’s home life. No one on How to Get Away with Murder ever rivals Davis and her star power but that all changed with Tyson in this episode. Davis and Tyson create one of the best mother-daughter pairings on primetime TV. Mama and Annalise have an irreplaceable bond and it shines in this episode. Right from the start, Tyson and Davis remind fans why their dynamic is so amazing.

Since How to Get Away with Murder began, very little is known about Annalise’s home life. The season two finale offers some more info on Annalise’s life before she became the famous lawyer Annalise Keating. With Anna Mae (Annalise’s real name) home, Mama decides it’s time for a good old fashion family gathering. This scene is filled with relatives coming up to Annalise and talking about her recent shooting, the death of Sam and basically everything that is a trigger for her. One of the most important guests at Mama’s family gathering is Annalise’s estranged father. The introduction of Annalise’s father offers more insight into her life. Fans quickly learn that her father and mother have begun seeing each other again following Annalise’s shooting. Davis does an incredible job at playing the protective daughter who is skeptical about her absentee father reappearing in her mother’s life. Once again, Tyson and Davis expand on their mother-daughter relationship in the best way possible.

Cicely Tyson and Viola Davis in the How to Get Away with Murder episode "Anna Mae". Photo Credit: ABC/Mitch Haaseth
Cicely Tyson and Viola Davis in the How to Get Away with Murder episode “Anna Mae”. Photo Credit: ABC/Mitch Haaseth

While Annalise is home and avoiding responsibility, an arrest warrant for Annalise has been issued. Cue Nate (Billy Brown) marching down to Tennessee to see how Annalise is doing and to let her know. Brown and Davis have always had incredible chemistry on How to Get Away with Murder. Their scenes together are always interesting as they play the couple that wants to be together but is afraid to let one another in. With Nate showing up at Annalise’s family home, a hilarious scene ensues involving Annalise’s sister and mother. Seeing Cicely Tyson spying on Nate and Annalise is nothing short of amusing and it’s great to have these small moments to break up the larger, more intense plot lines.

Although it’s always great to see Billy Brown enjoy more screen time, it was a conversation between Davis and Tyson that really stands out from his visit. Nate sticks around for dinner and is invited into the home Annalise has strayed away from. After listening to some backhanded comments from her family about not having a family of her own, Annalise pulls her mother aside and drops one of the biggest bombs of the season. She tells her mother that she had a baby and he died. Tyson’s look of disbelief and sadness conveys everything a meaningful comment could. Davis and Tyson elevate this episode of How to Get Away with Murder to new heights and it’s arguably the most gut-wrenching episode of the entire season. In a moment of pure emotion, Mama wakes Annalise up and drags her to the backyard. It’s there where Davis begins her 2016 Emmy Award campaign for Best Leading Actress in a Drama. She gets down on her knees and begins to dig a hole. Mama tells her to “write your baby a letter.” In a moment of pure emotional defeat, Annalise sobs and writes a letter. As she places it in the hole she looks up and utters the most heartbreaking sentence of the episode, “His name was Sam.” Davis deserves every accolade she has received for this role and it’s further proven in the season two finale.

Jack Falahee, Aja Naomi King, Karla Souza, Conrad Ricamora, Alfred Enoch and Matt McGorry in the How to Get Away with Murder episode "Anna Mae". Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder
Jack Falahee, Aja Naomi King, Karla Souza, Conrad Ricamora, Alfred Enoch and Matt McGorry in the How to Get Away with Murder episode “Anna Mae”. Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder

Meanwhile back at Keating & Associates, Frank is dealing with his own demons. After learning that Laurel told Annalise about Lyla’s murder, Frank begins to reminisce about his past indiscretions. It’s in flashback form that fans learn that Frank was hired to bug Annalise’s apartment during the Mahoney trial. If that isn’t bad enough, the woman who hired him is working for Wallace Mahoney (Adam Arkin). It’s also revealed that Frank indirectly caused the accident that led to Annalise losing her child. Through flashbacks, Weber expands Frank’s character even more. His work on How to Get Away with Murder continues to be extraordinary as he delivers some major character development.

With Frank walking around wondering what Annalise will do to him upon her return, the Keating 5 are dealing with some of their own issues. Following their drunken hookup in the last episode, Asher (Matt McGorry) and Michaela (Aja Naomi King) must make the typical hookup decision: should they do it again? McGorry and King have created a very unlikely pairing on How to Get Away with Murder and it will be interesting see if it continues into season three. Laurel and Wes (Alfred Enoch) are also dealing with Annalise’s revelation that Wallace Mahoney is Wes’ real father. Souza and Enoch have really stepped up their acting game this season. Souza is arguably the MVP of season two and her work opposite Enoch is something that will hopefully carry over into season three.

One of the biggest storylines this week continues to be Oliver’s (Conrad Ricamora) drive to be part of Keating & Associates and Connor’s (Jack Falahee) opposition. With an arrest warrant out for Annalise, Oliver decides to help Keating & Associates out, much to Connor’s disapproval. He hacks the police database and swiftly figures out who has been informing the ADA about Annalise. Ricamora has truly proven himself this season on How to Get Away with Murder and it’s no wonder that he will return for season three as a full blown series regular!

Charlie Weber in the How to Get Away with Murder episode "Anna Mae". Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder
Charlie Weber in the How to Get Away with Murder episode “Anna Mae”. Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder

After realizing she can’t run forever, Annalise returns to Keating & Associates and is informed that Caleb (Kendrick Sampson) has been informing the ADA. In typical Annalise Keating fashion, she goes to the police station and informs the ADA all about Caleb. It turns out that Caleb was the one that murdered his parents and framed Phillip (Jefferson White)! It’s also revealed that Catherine (Amy Okuda) has been in love with Caleb this entire time and they’ve been fooling around. This may come as a shock to some viewers, however from the first time the Hapstall siblings were presented there was always something off about them. So there you have it, with one amazing Annalise monologue, the Hapstall murder case is wrapped up in a nice bow. Davis rules over How to Get Away with Murder with an iron fist and it’s further proven in this epic scene.

Of course How to Get Away with Murder can’t end a season without more questions being raised. In the final minutes, Oliver is seen deleting Connor’s acceptance letter to Stanford so they can stay with Keating & Associates and the finale piece of Frank’s past is revealed. In an emotional flashback, Frank visits Sam (Tom Verica) in the hospital and tells him about his involvement in the car accident. Sam swiftly convinces Frank to keep his involvement a secret from Annalise. This secret leads Frank to killing Lyla as a “you owe me” for Sam. Talk about a crazy chain of events.

All of this leads into the final five minutes of How to Get Away with Murder that will surely have fans talking all summer. Laurel goes to visit Frank only to find that Frank is gone! Where Frank will be when season three premieres remains to be seen, but this will surely spark an interesting storyline for Laurel, Bonnie (Liza Weil) and the rest of Keating & Associates. Meanwhile, Wes goes to pay Wallace Mahoney a visit. Just as he’s about to admit to being his son, Wallace is shot in the head by an unknown gunman! Talk about an explosive ending. How to Get Away with Murder sets up season three and leaves fans with even more questions!

How to Get Away with Murder returns with season three this fall on ABC

Overall Episode Grade: A

Overall Season Grade: A-

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