Friday, October 23, 2015

REVIEW: 'How to Get Away With Murder' - Asher is Told a Story and Has to Make a Crucial Decision in 'Meet Bonnie'

ABC's How to Get Away With Murder - Episode 2.05 "Meet Bonnie"

Asher discovers not everything is what it seems when you work for Annalise. Frank is presented with a situation that hits close to home. Wes' search to find out more about Rebecca's disappearance culminates into an explosive confrontation.

"Meet Bonnie" is a very messy and chaotic episode. However, it's also an improvement on the two previous episodes. Yes, the conspiracy elements are starting to become a little overwhelming. It's getting harder to track who exactly knows what at any given moment in time. The speed with which the narrative is moving is frantic and largely avoids the quieter moments where the characters realize the extent of their current situations. And yet, "Meet Bonnie" is a success because it does focus on its characters. New depths are discovered with a few of them while still maintaining the ever present descent into full-blown chaos that is about to explode in just three weeks.

Bonnie's confession to Asher that she was the one who killed Sam was bound to have major ripple effects with the rest of the characters. She expertly crafts a very believable story of her killing him out of self defense when he tried to rape her. She's hardly an innocent person in this universe. Remember, she did kill Rebecca after all. But this confession gives the rest of the hour a focus amongst the chaos. It's the new story that everyone can cling to in order to explain their actions. It could go wrong any number of ways considering the unpredictability of Asher - who is still getting used to all of these secrets and chaos. It also unites the characters in a way that makes them distrustful of each other while being unable to escape from them as well.

There's still quite a bit of distance between Annalise and the quartet of law students who disposed of Sam's body for her. Connor notices that something is wrong when Annalise, Frank and Bonnie go behind closed doors and whisper. It's a good thing that the show became aware that it's characters were speaking very loudly in a house where everyone could hear them despite the walls between them. It's a huge plot point in this episode because Connor believes that this is cause for concern. He thinks Asher found out the truth about Sam's murder and it's just a matter of time before the police come to arrest all of them. Connor, Michaela, Laurel and Wes embracing that fact and having some fun with the idea that this could be their last day of freedom was the most enjoyable those characters have ever been. Sure, the story soon devolves into one about conspiracy theories where everyone is suspicious about each other. But it's still a lot of fun getting to that point.

Annalise wants her students to be grateful for the sacrifices that she, Bonnie and Frank are doing for them. They have protected all of them and they don't seem to care at all. Both Connor and Wes are actively working against her. Plus, there's the added pressure of Asher maybe cutting a deal to actually testify against all of them. It's a precarious situation. One where Annalise just wants to rely on the people that she trusts the most - Bonnie and Frank. Of course, she still holds the two of them at a distance. But they are much better at getting things done than any of the students are. Wes basically falls into a trip exactly as Frank set it as soon as he and Annalise learned about Wes' various activities with Nate and Levi. It's a story over-explained to the audience. Why did the big confrontation at the ceremony have to be shown twice in almost its entirely both times? Plus, it may be too needlessly complicated with the drug arrest and the suitcase full of money. But it keeps those characters preoccupied and in their place. Annalise is doing her best to control the situation even as it continues to slip away from her.

One of the best moments of the episode comes when Annalise is fearful of the future with Frank and Bonnie right after she told the students the truth about the situation. She needs Bonnie and Frank to handle these situations with Wes and Asher. She's too busy trying to do her best for her clients at the moment. This episode succeeds because the actual legal case is just a minor story throughout the hour. It's just a few scenes about whether or not the previous testimony of Caleb and Catherine's aunt can be used in their upcoming trial. The truth comes out that the aunt was a racist which establishes a prejudice against the siblings. And yet, it's not a simple win for Annalise either because she cannot claim that she got that footage legally - which she didn't. Her playing outside of the rules works a lot of the time. It's important to see that it doesn't work all of the time though.

In the end, everyone seems to be turning against Wes while Asher makes his decision about telling the truth to Sinclair. Wes has gone a little crazy with this pursuit to uncover the truth about Rebecca's disappearance. It's not the best story because their relationship wasn't anything special. But it's still so amusing watching Frank continue to outsmart Wes at every move. Meanwhile, Asher wants to be a good person. He's the most uncorrupted by Annalise at the firm so far. He hears about the horrible way Sam died, wants to sympathize with Bonnie but still wants to do the right thing. No matter what he is determined to tell the truth. That's devastating to Bonnie as she realizes maybe Annalise is right and she can't do anything on her own. That's somewhat true because it's up to Annalise to get Asher to change his mind. She shows him a piece of evidence that reveals a tragic piece of Bonnie's backstory. She was molested by her father for years. That's what makes this subject so personal to her. It's enough to get his silence for a little while. But as the flash-forwards prove, Asher won't be quiet for very long.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Meet Bonnie" was written by Sarah L. Thompson and directed by Stephen Cragg.
  • The Wes-Levi investigation was at its most frustrating when they questioned Bruno about why Frank called him on the night of Rebecca's disappearance. They really weren't that smart at all. It's no surprise that Frank was able to manipulate them afterwards so easily.
  • All the joking about the orgy amongst the students was hilarious - from Laurel saying Michaela was all hers to Michaela being interested if Frank and his beard joined in. Too bad none of it actually happened though.
  • Well, Laurel and Frank did have sex in the basement where Rebecca was murdered. That's something. Though that's not a relationship that is remotely interesting or even consistently written.
  • This is the second time in as many weeks that Michaela is caught talking dirty on the phone. It probably won't be a trend now that she knows who Levi is and he has been arrested.
  • It's kinda great that when Annalise mentions that she caught Wes and Nate together Frank just assumes that they are screwing. Hey, it's not an impossible thought on this show.
  • Much of Asher's story would have worked better if the audience had a better understanding of the case from his past that he is so fearful of. Right now, both he and his father just want to cryptically stop it from getting out into the world.
  • Connor admitted to loving Oliver just as he was also mentioning that fact that he could be arrested soon. Yeah, this is going to end tragically, right?