Last week, people (myself included) went crazy over the premiere of ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder. It was easily the most solid premiere of a lackluster fall television season, and it certainly helped that Academy Award nominee Viola Davis was steering the ship. Can it sustain its mystery and intrigue for the entire stretch (not to mention subsequent seasons—a point brought up by fellow ADTV contributor Megan on her own blog)? With last night’s episode, it only appears that we are beginning to scratch the surface in a larger mystery.
The second episode continually flashes back to the four law students burying the body of Annalise’s husband, Sam, in the woods. Just when you think you can trust adorable Wes (seriously, I can’t get over how doe-eyed and cute Alfred Enoch is), we discover that he lied to Laurel, Connor, and Michaela when he flipped the coin to decide whether or not to bury the body. He also buys a disposable cell phone and secretly tells someone on the line that “we will protect you.”
Annalise’s latest client, Max St. Vincent, is a hunter who is accused of slaughtering his second wife in bed. When the law students go to talk to Max, they also get to see the crime scene almost fully intact. There are blood splatters all over the room, and Max is able to recreate the prosecution’s accusations with an effortless verve (with Connor playing his wife in a creepy re-enactment). Steven Webber plays Max with an unsettling looseness that would surely make the casting directors over at Law and Order: SVU squeal with glee.
As Annalise’s team tries to come up with a defense for Max, she becomes more and more suspicious of her husband’s relationship with Lila Stanguard, the sorority sister whose body was discovered in the pilot episode. While her husband is in the shower, she checks his cell phone and finds an email exchange between the two of them. Annalise checks his phone a second time later in the episode, and she discovers that the messages have been deleted. She begs her cop boyfriend, Nate, to check out her husband’s alibi.
Laurel wants to prove herself to Annalise (everyone knows that she slept with Frank, and that might be the only reason she’s on the team), and she comes up with a defense for Max when it appears that they have nowhere to go. It’s revealed that Max actually killed his first wife, and he admits it on the stand without batting an eye (again, SVU is a-calling). The precision in which he killed his first wife makes it very apparent that he is not responsible for the sloppiness of his second wife’s murder.
Just when you think you can trust Wes, How to Get Away complicates the relationship between him and his neighbor, Rebecca. She comes over to use his shower late at night, and it appears there might be a flirtation between them. Rebecca gets arrested for possible involvement in Lila’s murder along with Lila’s jock boyfriend (“It’s always the boyfriend,” Annalise said in the pilot), but then we are thrown for a loop when Wes joins Rebecca in a motel room at the end of the episode. He assures her that he won’t leave her “alone like that” ever again, and they kiss as the episode draws to a close.
It’s clear that How to Get Away is starting at the beginning (with the start of Annalise’s classes) and at the end (the students burying the body). It keeps the tension taut but giving us only a piece of the middle one episode at a time. Loyalties are being questioned and relationships are revealed to be a lot more complicated and interwoven than originally though. Is Sam responsible for Lila’s murder? Surely it’s not that simple, and it won’t be a season of red herrings, right?
It’s only two episodes in, but How to Get Away with Murder is already one of the most talked about shows of the fall. It’s bloody and sexy (Sam and Annalise have a steamy scene in the episode, and Connor and Oliver should have scenes together all the time), and every time it ends I throw my hands up and yell, “what the HELL is going on?!”