Last night on How to Get Away With Murder, Viola Davis' first season as television's best defense attorney Annalise Keating ended with a bang—or rather a choke—and left everyone screaming. I, alternatively, just clapped for the fabulous performances and masterfully hidden culprit. Honestly, I'm still kind of mad I didn't figured out the murderer earlier.
* SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT *
On Thursday night, we learned Sam Keating's role in Lila Stangard's murder: he didn't do it, but he orchestrated it. Though show creator Pete Norwalk says his ultimate theme was "Who knows what we're all capable of?," I felt the takeaway from How to Get Away With Murder's first season was that people don't change—and when they show you who they are, believe them. Lila was a snotty sorority girl, Rebecca was a lying drug dealer, Annalise is a conniving winner, Sam was a philandering accomplice to murder, Frank is a murdering criminal and Wes is the naive guy who just wants to believe that people are good.
Sorry kid, no one is good on this show except Oliver, Connor's hacker genius boyfriend—and look what happened to him.
During Thursday's flashback-filled episode, we finally found out what happened to Lila. Yes, Sam was there—but Frank is the one who strangles Lila and tosses her in a water tank, as a favor to Sam for something undisclosed. Later, Sam feels pretty good about having solved his infidelity and side-baby problems (Lila was pregnant) until those kids— cue Scooby Doo—start messing around with his perfect plan. He tries to strangle Rebecca just before Wes beats him to death with the coveted class trophy. Then Wes, Rebecca, Michaela, Connor and Laurel all leave but Wes returns to find Annalise, who gives him directions to … get away with murder.
Here's the thing, no one has really changed from the first episode, with the exception of uptight Michaela who suddenly cares nothing for money—but I don't believe you, you need more people. Laurel is still fiddling around with Frank, Connor is still shady though he's trying not to be, Asher Millstone is as corny as ever (good butt though), Bonnie is the weakest link (How does she still have her job?) and Frank is the get 'er done criminal planting evidence and calling up jailhouse connections.
Outside of the show's theme that You Are Who You Are, How to Get Away With Murder's first season was filled with fierce and handsome actors. Last Thursday, Cicely Tyson played Viola Davis' mother and revealed that she, too, had gotten away with the murder of an uncle who molested Annalise! I just kept hearing this song and wishing someone would scratch my scalp. It was an emotionally harrowing but supremely performed episode, just two black women sparring with their decades of talent on prime time television. It was a huge deal.
Elsewhere, Nate, Annalise's sexy cop side piece, gave us something to drool over. Who can forget our first introduction to their relationship when he was giving her brain behind her desk when someone walks in on them. Rude. Connor was a stand-out also and I'm still wondering what makes an "ass water," which was one of the tricks he used to get information on a case earlier that season. Wes plays a good straight man, just being Annalise's puppy and fighting to save his sketchy girlfriend until he realizes she's been lying to him and he cracks. Marcia Gay Harden as Sam's mean sister who never liked Annalise was a joy to watch, another storied actress who serves great drama as a rule. We have forgiven her for her one-dimensional role in Fifty Shades, right? Right.
Ultimately, How to Get Away With Murder is a terrific show—though not totally based in reality, but what television show is?—with an engaging whodunnit story line that I am ready to watch during next fall's season two. I genuinely did not know it was Frank until the last moments and now, I'm curious how show creator Norwalk will handle the script now that Rebecca, Lila and Sam are all dead.
Also, thank you to Shonda Rhimes and ShondaLand for taking over ABC on Thursdays and giving Pete a chance. We, the public, are having a ball.
Image via ABC.