Season 2, Episode 1: ‘It’s Time to Move On’
If there’s one thing that How to Get Away with Murder excels at, it’s hitting the ground running. Nobody could ever accuse this series of being slow, in fact we need a full two minutes of the episode dedicated solely to the “previously on How to Get Away with Murder” so that our brains won’t overload with the dozen plot threads being dangled in the air.
Just as it closed the season one finale, Rebecca’s death also opens the premiere. We see a brief flashback of Rebecca begging for her life, seconds before she’s suffocated. And what a relief it is to finally be done with this useless character who threatened to bog down far too many episodes last season.
There is a lot going on in the season premiere, even for Murder. Annalise and Frank are busy pointing fingers at any plausible suspects for Rebecca’s murder, Wes is moping over Rebecca’s disappearance and biting the hand that feeds him (Annalise), Laurel and Michaela are still sniping at one another, Connor and Oliver are reeling from Oliver’s HIV diagnosis, Annalise is working to get Nate legal representation after she framed him, Asher is apparently spying for opposing council and somehow the show still manages to incorporate a case-of-the-week.
I feel like the inside of the Murder writers room is just four solid walls covered with thousands of post-it notes so that nobody forgets just how many plates are spinning all at once. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
Thank god for Annalise and the phenomenal (and newly minted Emmy winner) Viola Davis, because she manages to anchor the episode even with the over-crowded narrative. Instead of a client seeking out Annalise’s firm to represent them, this time Annalise is actively trying to pursue a client who already has a defence attorney. A brother and sister (who I mistakenly assumed were a couple for two thirds of the episode) are accused of murdering their parents and the prosecution’s eye witness also happens to be their Aunt.
Annalise is determined to take on their case and employs Bonnie and Laurel to help her undermine the current defence attorney’s case in order to achieve this. Everybody is sitting around listlessly and Annalise mutters my favourite line of the episode when someone asks, “Where are you going?” and she replies, “To get a murder case that didn’t happen in this house.” Oh Annalise, never change.
We also meet another person from Annalise’s past, Eve Rothlow (played by Famke Janssen), the death-row prosecutor Annalise is attempting to convince to represent Nate for Sam’s murder. These two had an odd chemistry right off the bat, with Eve straight-up accusing Annalise of “using people” for a means to an end. It is later explained that the two women were actually lovers in law school before Annalise left her for Sam. It does make sense, given Eve acts more like a jilted lover than a betrayed friend. However, I’m wondering if this is a clumsy attempt to offer more representation of sexually ambiguous, African-American on television. I’m all for more layered representation of female characters, but this example felt lazy and rushed.
The biggest surprise of the episode didn’t come from finding out who murdered Rebecca, but the fact that it was revealed so early into the new season. Frank is certain that Laurel killed her because she’s manipulative, ruthless and grew up with a shady father. But Annalise realises Frank has “the wrong girl”. Cue another flashback to Rebecca’s murder, only now we have the full picture; Bonnie killed Rebecca. Annalise confronts her immediately, “You’re the one sick enough to do this.” Really? What evidence have we ever seen that docile Bonnie could be capable of murder? The reveal essentially comes out of the left field and we’re given the weak explanation by Annalise that Bonnie did this due to some misguided attempt to uphold her idealistic image of Sam. Hmm…okay.
But all is forgotten by the end of the episode when Annalise takes the Keating Five (minus Asher) out for drinks. It’s super weird and reminiscent of running into a drunk, former high school teacher when you’re out at a bar. But it also kind of works because it’s nice to see these characters take a moment to just be. This only lasts a moment before we flash forward to months into the future and Wes is running out of the mansion that belongs to the murder siblings from this week’s case, leaving Annalise bleeding out on their expensive rug.
How to Get Away with Murder isn’t perfect by any means, and it sounds like I’m tearing ‘It’s Time to Move On’ apart but I still love this whacky show to pieces. I merely worry about how long the series can carry on its premise without burning out, or worse, becoming dull.