Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Executive Stage Editor
It appears to be a season of re-invention for ABC’s hit drama How to Get Away with Murder. The hit TGIT show, created by Pete Nowalk, kicked off its third season this week with an episode filled with new character arcs. How to Get Away with Murder is back with it’s premiere episode “We’re Good People Now.”
When you are a show that thrives on being at least five steps ahead of your viewers, it can be hard to create refreshing storylines. How long can you continue to lead them blindly before they figure out your plan? This is something I’ve been thinking about all summer as I awaited How to Get Away with Murder’s return.
Last season, Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and company had to deal with the overarching Hapstall case as well as Wes (Alfred Enoch) learning more about his past. A season filled with twists and turns, it never quite lived up to the hype of season one, but remained a great follow up season. So, going into season three I was skeptical how the show would keep me interested. Would there be yet another murder to solve? Would we go through another season of the students blindly trusting Annalise? All of my hesitant questions were answered in the season three premiere and my verdict remains that I’m on the fence. I’m still unsure how I will remained hooked for an entire season, but again if any show were to surprise me, it would be this one.
Season three of How to Get Away with Murder kicks off right where last season ended. Frank (Charlie Weber) has taken off upon revealing that he indeed killed Lyla for Sam (Tom Verica). Frank has always been a mysterious character, however this season Weber seems to be dialing it to a full ten. He’s shaved his beard and is now on the run. Although Frank has always played a key role in storylines, this seems to be his season to be front and center. With Annalise furious over Frank’s betrayal and Laurel (Karla Souza) trying to distance herself as much as possible, Frank is the key character to keep an eye on as we launch into season three.
Fans also get to see what happened after Wes confronted his father, Wallace Mahoney (Adam Arkin), and he was subsequently killed. In one of my favorite How to Get Away with Murder moments, Annalise picks Wes up after Wallace’s death and takes him to the middle of the woods. No, Annalise isn’t going to murder Wes. Instead they have a lovely screaming match as they cleanse themselves of everything that’s happened. Between Sam cheating, Frank killing Lyla and Wes learning about his father, there’s a lot to yell about. Davis and Enoch have always been the center of this crazy universe and seeing them work together is always a blessing.
How to Get Away with Murder fills fans in on what happened during the summer as all the students and Annalise try to move on. Laurel went to Mexico to forget about Frank, Connor (Jack Falahee) anxiously prays Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) doesn’t start working for Annalise and Asher (Matt McGorry) and Michaela (Aja Naomi King) are still sleeping together. So, basically a typical summer for our favorite characters. The premiere provides snippets of their summers set against the backdrop of present day.
Every single character has grown tremendously and it shows in this premiere. Their character arcs have continued to go above and beyond. Each character has a hint of what they were presented as, but flourishes as the people they’ve become. Michaela is struggling to remain perfect, Asher has fallen from his family’s good graces, Wes knows about his parentage, Connor has becomes the protective boyfriend and Laurel has become the leader of the pack. All of these characters have experienced a 360 change and it’s so refreshing to see. They aren’t stuck in their original character roles. They have struggled, they have learned and most importantly, they have grown.
After playing “catch up,” we are transported to present day and the first day of classes. Annalise is no longer teaching Criminal Law 101 and instead teaches a seminar class where students work as practicing lawyers. Of course, the Keating Five are in her class, much to the dismay of other students. The case this week involves an Iraqi immigrant facing deportation. The legal case gets shuffled into the background of the episode. It works simply as an establishing plot line so viewers can see the students fight to be first and second chair on the case.
Although she has been getting back to “normal” life, everything is never what it seems for Annalise. After helping Wes, she spent her summer gardening, craving tequila and getting closer with Nate (Billy Brown). Of course, this is How to Get Away with Murder and nothing is ever that simple. On her first day of class, Annalise is greeted with a poster of her face that reads “killer.” Something she doesn’t seem fazed by, however could this mean someone has figured out what’s been going on? The Keating Five appear to be more nervous about the posters showing up on campus than she is. We also learn that during the summer, Annalise was demoted to a researcher at the school due to the Keating Five performing in the bottom 10% of their class. Yikes. Of course, Annalise sweet talks her way into the new teaching position like we knew she would.
Davis continues to shine in her role of Annalise Keating. She constantly surprises audiences with her range of emotion through each and every episode of How to Get Away with Murder. She has several stand out moments this week, but the biggest comes towards the end. Throughout the episode, fans see Annalise making mysterious phone calls from a burner phone (hidden amongst her jewelry might I add). At the end of the episode, we learn that Annalise hired a private investigator to track down Frank. He has found Frank at a motel. Just before Annalise can say anything, the investigator is strangled by Frank and killed. All while Annalise is on the phone. Davis delivers a brilliant scene as Annalise listens in horror. Her ability to take Annalise from a strong, stoic woman to an emotional one is always amazing. The storylines on How to Get Away with Murder can run hot and cold, but Davis’ brilliant performance is what remains constant.
Although Davis remains a staple in the episode, it was Falahee and Ricamora that stole the show. When fans last left Connor and Oliver, Oliver had deleted Connor’s acceptance letter to Stanford. When the premiere picks up, Oliver still hasn’t told Connor and instead discloses the information to Annalise. The secret doesn’t take long to circle back to Connor. Annalise tells him after she decides to offer Oliver a job. This all leads to an emotional scene between Falahee and Ricamora as Connor and Oliver break up. Falahee and Ricamora have grown together during the three seasons of How to Get Away with Murder. This episode is gut wrenching as Falahee tears up and Ricamora delivers a crushing break up speech. This makes me interested how Connor and Oliver’s dynamic will change now with Oliver working for Annalise. I’m interested to see how they grow as colleagues now that the relationship has ended.
The season three premiere of How to Get Away with Murder dealt a lot with set up for the upcoming season. A good portion of the episode involved getting viewers up to speed so an interesting story can be told moving forward. The episode ends the only way How to Get Away with Murder knows how to end. It shows a two month time jump where Annalise is hysterically sobbing over a dead body and her house is up in flames. Like the previous two season, this season will look at leading fans to this murder and what happened. How to Get Away with Murder is back with a season of re-inventing characters and itself.