Friday, 8 April 2016

How To Get Away With Murder - "Anna Mae" (Season Finale) - Review

By Gregory Robinson

If there is one thing you can always expect when watching How To Get Away With Murder, is to be in a complete state of amazement and shock for the duration of the forty-five minute episode duration. And the second season finale “Anna Mae” certainly did not disappoint.

In contrast to last year’s season finale, “Anna Mae” featured slightly less murder and more heart and context. But in true HTGAWM fashion, there are several revelations to long-standing questions and of course another murder to hold us over until the new season begins in September. For those of you who do not know, Anna Mae is Annalise Keating’s birth name and the name her elderly mother refers to her. The finale is largely centred around Annalise who has gone through several tumultuous events throughout the season (both in the past and in the present).

For instance, while dealing with the death/murder of her husband Sam, dealing with a new case, and getting shot by one of her students, Annalise decides to go back home for some much needed TLC. Last season’s episode which featured Annalise’s mother (played by Cicely Tyson) was a highlight for the show. We see in the complicated interaction between Annalise and her mother while also seeing her relationship with her sister, who we first meet in Annalise’s childhood bedroom which is covered with Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston posters. The episode very much shows Annalise reverting to a childhood state in order to deal with the flurry of mishaps currently occurring in her life, including an arrest warrant and recounting the Wes’s past and her dead baby.

One of the most emotionally impactful scenes from the entire series and possibly from any drama this season involves Annalise silently writing a letter who her dead son and burying it in her mother’s back garden after informing her mother that she did in fact have a child and was to become a mother.

Dealing with the ugly truth is another theme within HTGAWM’s season finale; Wes must figure out whether he stabbed his mother, by the end of the episode he meets his father who is mysteriously shot dead in front of his eyes.

So yet again, Wes is at the centre of the seasons biggest revelations. At the midseason break, we were left at a cliff hanger which left many people wondering how Annalise was connected to Wes’s childhood, the mystery surrounding his mother’s death and his father’s perceived death. We soon realised Annalise, while heavily pregnant, was defending Wes’s mother’s employer’s son in a case (Wes’s mother was a maid). She was the only witness and received threats from Wes’s dad once she started to have second thoughts about her involvement in the case and the safety of her citizenship. Annalis tried to protect her (and as a result, is in a fatal car accident) and his mother kills herself because she believed they had taken Wes and would eventually kill her. Wes’s father (Wallace Mahoney) is not only a crook, but a rapist and it is the rape of Wes’s mother by Wallace which led to Wes. Sounds messed up and confusing right? That’s because it is! And what makes the show even more confusing are the constant fast-forwarding and re-winding to previous scenes which only adds more fuel to the fire. We discover why Frank owed Sam (Frank was involved with Mahoney who organised the fatal car accident which killed Annalise and Sam’s baby which Annalise does not know!)

This season’s long running murder case involving the Hapstall twins appears to be continuing into next season. Long story short; Phillip is innocent and Caleb is guilty (and dead in a bathtub somewhere). Catherine and Jacob were indeed in love with each other as previously thought. While this season has certainly been exciting and filled with unexpected twists and turns, I think it would be in the show’s favour to tone down the show for the third season. At some points during the final three episodes, the show felt filled to the limit with story lines which were not receiving adequate attention they deserved, such as the Hapstall case which I think should have been resolved by episode 15.

Hopefully the spontaneous trip home will improve Annalise’s character for season three. We all love the unapologetic assertiveness Viola Davis brings to the role but it would be nice to see the character return to the darkly comic lecturer she portrayed in the first season rather than a grumpy alcoholic in this season (which also happens to be what Shona Rimes has transformed Olivia Pope in Scandal into). Can Peter Nowalk put Annalise back into lecture rooms teaching? Can we have more cases per-week like we saw in the first half of season 2? Can we have less rewinding and fast forwarding? Next season will most likely address the death of Wes’s father (it kinda has too), the death of Annalise’s baby, Frank’s disappearance and hopefully delve deeper into the lives of the students.

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