How To Get Away With Murder, Season 2 Episode 1: “It’s Time to Move On”

How To Get Away With Murder was the new show I was most looking forward to when it premiered in the 2014-2015 season. It was from Shondaland (this was back when Scandal was one of my favourite shows), and it had Viola Davis and the guy who played Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter movies. The trailer was great, and I love trying to solve mysteries. However, I found myself tiring of the show before the murder in the first half of the season even occurred, because while I thought switching between two timelines was an interesting conceit for the pilot, it didn’t work when every episode was figuring out what to do with Sam. I also didn’t know how the show was going to last beyond its first season. When I decided to watch the second season premiere this afternoon, I was worried, but I found that I could follow everything that was happening without too much difficulty. I had issues with some things, none of which were Viola Davis, but I’m interested enough in where it’s going to keep watching for a little while.

At the beginning of the second season, HTGAWM is almost over-stuffed with story. There are so many things going on! Nate is on trial for Sam’s murder, and Annalise has given him the number of a good lawyer. Annalise and Frank have just (or three months ago, I’m not sure if this is the new school year or just a new semester) discovered Rebecca’s dead body, and Frank is convinced that Wes killed her. Two siblings have been charged with their adopted parents’ murder and Annalise wants to take their case. There’s a whole thing with Laurel stealing Michaela’s engagement ring so that she’d keep quiet. Oliver has HIV, and I don’t think Michaela’s engaged any more. I’ve lost track. Once again there are multiple timelines, the present day with the new semester of class, the discovery of Rebecca’s body, and a flashforward at the end.

We’ll start with Rebecca, because that’s the most interesting. Frank is convinced that Wes did it, because he killed Sam (from what I can tell, Frank was the one who shoved the murdered girl from last season into the water tank, so he’s not exactly innocent himself), but Annalise maintains that he did it to protect Rebecca. He’d never kill someone he loved in cold blood. So Annalise sets up a trap for Wes, but Wes has been pretty mature about the whole thing, aside from yelling at his professor, and said that if Rebecca ran away from him, she obviously doesn’t want to talk to him, which is a good point. He has no idea that she’s dead. It turns out that Michaela and Connor were the ones to kidnap Rebecca in the first place and there’s a mysterious person texting Michaela. Eh. Then somehow Laurel figures out that Rebecca’s dead, so she goes to Frank to confirm it. Suddenly Frank’s convinced that Laurel is the murderer, but it’s actually Bonnie! There were no clues to tell us that it was Bonnie other than the fact that we knew she was in love with Sam from last season. So that didn’t track for me. Anyway.

We get more of a backstory into Annalise’s personal life, as the lawyer she told Nate to contact is her ex-girlfriend. Well, we get something. Nate tells lawyer lady (I didn’t catch her name, because I didn’t think she was significant until I found out that Annalise left her for Sam) that Annalise has set him up, and she’s off the case until Annalise goes to see her. Eh. I’m not particularly interested in whatever’s going on here; The Good Wife was great at this stuff (legal cases mixed up with relationship drama) when it was at its best, and also there are so many storylines in this show that at least one of them will end up being underserved on any given week.

The case that Annalise manipulates her way into isn’t particularly interesting so far because we know almost nothing about the case. She gets her team to doctor some surveillance footage and then give it to the defense, and she gets hired as the defendants’ new lawyer. At the end of the episode, the defendants’ aunt, who was the key witness for the prosecution, is found murdered in her car. With so many murders (in two separate storylines – Rebecca’s is linked to Sam’s and the aunt’s is connected to Annalise’s clients), it’s going to be hard to keep track of everything, and we haven’t even got to what happens two months in the future!

It seems that How To Get Away With Murder likes having the shocking event that will be the focus of the midseason finale (Revenge did something similar), so this week we hear a gunshot, see Wes running from a mansion, before we cut to Annalise bleeding on the floor. First of all Annalise is not going to die, because this show is a Viola Davis vehicle, and it will be on the air for as long as Viola Davis wants to keep making it. The shorter seasons are to accommodate Davis’ desire to do other projects rather than commit full-time to one television show. Second of all, the episode replays Annalise’s monologue from the first class back, when she tells her class that you’re more likely to be murdered by someone you know – a parent, a friend, even a lover – the relationship between Wes and Annalise has always been quite strange, so if they end up lovers, I won’t be surprised, especially since Bonnie, Frank and Sam have had no issue when it comes to sleeping with students. I always thought that the reason Annalise was so protective of Wes is that she’s secretly his mother (we learn through exposition from Frank this week that his mother died of suicide before he even knew her), and if that’s true, the creepy Oedipus complex thing they have going on is even more creepy. I don’t know.

Other thoughts:

  • I’ll keep watching this for a few more episodes, the acting on this show is always solid.
  • It occurred to me that Annalise Keating is possibly the worst law professor in the history of television. Yes, she likes to name her class “How to get away with murder”, but she shouldn’t actually be teaching her students how to get away with literal murder. It’s a bit too on the nose for my taste.
  • Matt McGorry confirmed to the others that he’s sleeping with Bonnie, and as soon as that happened he seems to be over her, as he ditches a booty call to study. Or maybe it’s because he feels guilty for leaving behind his girlfriend at Litchfield Federal Penetentiary. Also: how much does he know about what happened with Sam? Is the reason he’s no longer interested in Bonnie because he knows she killed Rebecca?
  • The Eggs 911 person texted Michaela back, but I don’t know what the significance of this mystery person is.
  • I assume this is a new year, but it could just be the second semester. I’m confused. Also, does a new year mean that Annalise selects another group of students to work for her? She’s a very busy woman, I’m not quite sure how she manages teaching and running a law firm, but I guess that’s why she gets her students to work for her. How many classes does she teach?

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