Friday, October 30, 2015

REVIEW: 'How to Get Away With Murder' - Asher Worries About His Future as Annalise Continues to Lie in 'Two Birds, One Millstone'

ABC's How to Get Away With Murder - Episode 2.06 "Two Birds, One Millstone"

Annalise takes on a new client, a transgender professor accused of killing her husband. The Keating 5 are left to handle the Hapstall case and they discover a shocking new suspect.

Asher is putting his faith in Annalise right now. He is trusting that she will be able to get him out of the compromising position he is currently in while keeping all of the shady secrets of his past hidden. He has so much to lose if Annalise doesn't protect him. He's afraid of this tragedy in his past getting out. He's worried this case could ruin both his and his father's careers. He is hoping that Annalise can handle all of that and make everything better. It's a strong story for Asher this season. It pulls him into the darkness that comes from working for Annalise that the fellow members of the Keating 5 know all too well. It's a satisfying story too even though it is based on a bunch of secrets. Annalise is only protecting Asher in order to keep herself safe against the overeager Sinclair. It's a precarious situation that could create tension any number of ways. That's meaningful because the characters themselves are compromised and could have their lives destroyed as a result of the truth being exposed. That's what keeps them in the positions they are in. Asher remains paranoid that Annalise will fire him at any moment. That fear is palpable because of the incredible amount of work she is doing to protect him at the moment.

In contrast, Wes' paranoia isn't an engaging story at all. The fact that the audience knows that Wes is right about Rebecca being dead is suppose to make him endearing and the voice of reason amongst the chaos. It does not. It makes him whiny, repetitive and annoying. He wants to restate information over and over again. Everyone around him is fed up with his vast conspiracy theories about what all of it means. It gets to the point where Laurel frustratingly walks him over to Frank so that he can bluntly ask the questions he has at the moment. It's suppose to be captivating to watch just how easily Frank and Annalise lie to Wes. But that only makes Wes out as a fool. Someone who makes no dramatic sense in the narrative anymore. That's problematic because he is still given a significant amount of time in each episode.

Furthermore, every action Frank takes continues to be frustrating. He wanted Laurel to know who he was before he would allow her to sleep with him again. And yet, he continues to only create a facade for her to fall in love with. This episode does the job of shading in his character background a little bit. He takes Laurel to a family dinner where his outrageous family is on screen for a few moments. That's not enough to inform who he is as a character though. He is the guy who cleans up all the messes for Annalise. His relationship with her is the only thing that is actually genuine. Why is that? That's the only really captivating mystery about him. Why the show is pushing his relationship with Laurel so hard is very confusing. What is the appeal of all of it knowing that he is both a killer and disposing of bodies? It's suppose to add a human element to that killer archetype. It's just continuing to be told in a very sloppy way.

Meanwhile, Caleb and Catherine's case is only a couple weeks away from that fateful night where Annalise is shot in their mansion. But right now, the students are trying to find another suspect for Annalise to pin all the blame on. At first, that pursuit comes out of awkwardness. Catherine records the students saying rude and inappropriate things about the case. Things that they should never be saying in the first place because they make no sense at all except in a sensationalized way. But it does motivate them to find a new suspect: the secret child of Caleb and Catherine's racist and dead aunt. He is a suspect who already seems very guilty. That would be quite a cop out in the story that has so much importance this season. This case is at the center of the narrative. It's the thing the flash-forwards are centered around. The show has been building up the reveal of who the killer is in this case. To have the answer be a previously unknown relative who isn't anyone who's been on the show before seems like a massive misstep. Though it reasonably makes sense too considering no other viable suspects actually exist either. It's not a very complicated case at all. In fact, the flash-forwards are really the only thing that establish it's significance on the show at the moment.

Plus, the flash-forwards in "Two Birds, One Millstone" are much more manipulative than they usually are. This time it shows what Frank is up to on the night that Annalise gets shot. He continues to put on a performance in order to create a story. He shows up at the hospital to act worried about her condition. So much planning has seemingly gone into the events of this evening. That's very suspicious - especially since Frank also has an unconscious Catherine in his backseat who he then transports to a spot in the woods to be found the next morning. And yet, the way that the show reveals that information makes it seem as if Catherine is dead until she surprisingly comes back to life after a police dog discovers her body. It's completely ridiculous and overly plays up the fact that Frank has had to dispose of plenty young woman's bodies on the show. This signals a difference from the norm. But it doesn't make it anymore engaging for either of the characters. It just makes it playful teasing for the audience - which makes it seem like not enough story is actually happening with the flash-forwards at the moment. They seemingly have nothing more to do. That means that night better happen soon in order to paint the much larger picture.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Two Birds, One Millstone" was written by Michael Foley and directed by Mike Listo.
  • The case-of-the-week took on the very buzzy topic of how the trans community is viewed when it comes to a police investigation. However, it was a bit too cut-and-dry to fully get into the nuances of the issues. Who knows if this show could have done it justice though in an expanded format.
  • Oliver is the one who discovers the secret child for the Keating 5 but that also puts him in harm's way. As smart as he is with the computer, he doesn't realize that the secret child is now spying on him. That could become very dangerous for him very soon.
  • The show is really pushing for Michaela and Caleb to hook up. It's not natural in the slightest. It's a story that's happening because multiple characters keep voicing an opinion about it. But it doesn't include very much actual action at all.
  • Bonnie is curious and a bit suspicious about how Annalise got Asher to change his mind about testifying. And yet, all Annalise needs to do is give Bonnie a compliment in order to win back her confidence. Though it doesn't last because Sinclair tells her about Asher's tragic past that includes a gang rape.
  • Nate helps his wife commit suicide which then forces a very painful conversation where he is angry at Annalise for letting him miss all that time he could have spent with his wife during the final days of her life. Now, he just doesn't care about her at all.