Friday, November 6, 2015

REVIEW: 'How to Get Away With Murder' - Annalise Reveals a Secret While Bonnie is Furious with Asher in 'I Want You to Die'

ABC's How to Get Away With Murder - Episode 2.07 "I Want You to Die"

Annalise and the team are hired to represent a client accused of badgering somebody to the point of suicide. Eve returns to defend Nate after ADA Sinclair serves him for a possible new murder charge. Bonnie learns about what happened at Trotter Lake.

From the very beginning of the series, Annalise and Wes have had a very weird relationship. It is borderline maternal and sexual. It has always been a very weird stylistic choice. The show has clearly been building it up as some big mystery. She has shown more of an interest in him than the rest of the Keating 5. And yet, the mystery hasn't been all that compelling because Wes is such a horribly bland character. After a season and a half of weird tension though, the show finally starts to give an answer as to why their relationship is the way that it is. Eve returns from New York to help Nate with his latest legal troubles. She puts the pieces together quickly that Wes is the person Annalise is protecting in Sam's murder case. When asked why, all Annalise says is "It's him." Eve's reaction shows that she understands exactly what Annalise means with this phrase. It's still a mystery for the audience. It could hint that Wes is Annalise's son. That seems the most logical answer right now. But the show could still come up with some other explanation as well.

The big Wes-Annalise reveal in this episode really isn't about Wes at all though. It's about Annalise's relationship with Eve. Eve knows this deeply personal thing about Annalise's life. Something that nobody else knows about. That establishes an intimacy that is genuine. It's such a great thing to have Famke Janssen back for more episodes. It establishes that Annalise's relationship with Eve is something the audience should invest in. It wasn't just something that happened for two episodes at the start of the season only to never be heard from again in order for Annalise to go back to Nate. It's much more complicated than that. That's what makes it work as an ongoing story. Annalise and Eve have terrific chemistry. But they also have an intimate knowledge of each other. They have a shared dream of practicing law in Paris. It's unobtainable right now. They recognize that because of the responsibilities they have in their lives at the moment. But this hour also sets out to wonder if Annalise even deserves this kind of happiness.

Annalise shows love in a way that can also be very destructive. She helped Bonnie stay out of prison. But in doing so, she may have completely destroyed what little was left in that relationship. Bonnie is so upset with Asher after learning the truth about what happened at Trotter Lake all those years ago. As a survivor of sexual assault, she understands that there is no good or heroic way to handle this situation. Asher wants to have pure and honest intentions. But he's still just that idiot who doesn't want to admit that he knew a gang rape was going to happen. There's nothing he can do to make this situation better for the girl that was harmed. Bonnie understands that because of her past. A past that is shading her relationship with Asher in the present. Bonnie doesn't want her past to define her. Annalise revealed the truth in order to get a win in court. That's heartbreaking to Bonnie. She can't see Asher the same way ever again. And now, she wants Annalise dead because of how personal this betrayal is.

The show is very clearly setting it up so that everyone has a motive to kill Annalise when the narrative catches up to the flash-forwards. Bonnie actually says the words in the climatic scene of this episode. That probably means she's not the one to pull the trigger though. The tease at the end with Bonnie pushing Sinclair's body over the wall is probably nothing more than misdirection. It's meant to excite the audience while keeping the mystery engaging. It's about time to get some concrete answers though. This mystery can only be stretched out so far. It's already starting to reach its limits. There remain so many viable suspects to causing harm to Annalise. The only person who genuinely loves her is Eve. That's a relationship that works so well. The other cases of tension evolve out of plot necessity which becomes overbearing and annoying rather quickly.

This episode actually features two cases of the week and it has no idea what to do with either of them. Eve is brought back in order to help Nate who is accused of helping his late wife commit suicide. The show really has no interest in examining the many complexities of physician assisted suicide. It's a story that happens for plot purposes. It keeps suspicion up and leaves Sinclair as a nuisance that everyone has to deal with. Meanwhile, the case Annalise is working on that features a very creepy stalker harassing a man to suicide is horrendously bad. It's filled with cliched writing, stupid characters and lame twists. There is absolutely no value to doing this story at all. It happens simply to give Laurel a little bit more to do. But it just clogs up an overall busy episode. It adds nothing to the chaos of the hour. It just keeps the rest of the stories from being able to properly explore the intimate character dynamics involved.

On top of all of that, Oliver joins Annalise's firm in a much more official way than usual. And yet, it's such a frustrating story for him that happens because the plot needs to put him in peril by episode's end. After hearing everything that Connor has to say about working for Annalise, why does Oliver want to actually set up shop there? Yes, Connor and Michaela are fun to hang out with and he's done a whole lot of hacking for them. Also, Connor hasn't been able to share the whole truth about how complicated things are when working for Annalise. But still it makes very little sense why Oliver becomes fixated on the idea of helping the team investigate their new lead suspect in the Hapstall case. In fact, this story just makes Oliver out to be stupid and naive. He is the resident hacker for the show. So, it's frustrating when the hacker gets hacked and doesn't know it. The end twist of Oliver potentially being the next victim was predictable because the audience knew something the characters didn't. That makes it hard to care about the twist because it was so painfully apparent. Connor and Oliver's relationship is meaningful. So Oliver being in danger is a big deal. But it still feels too constructed as a plot without enough character emotion to truly work all that well.

Some more thoughts:
  • "I Want You to Die" was written by Warren Hsu Leonard and directed by Kevin Bray.
  • Despite this episode being a huge mess that changed moods every few minutes, it had some truly great performances from Viola Davis, Famke Janssen and Liza Weil.
  • It's laughable that Michaela just happens to find the paperwork that says there was mystery DNA at the crime scene in the Hapstall case. The excuse is that it was filed incorrectly in order to delay. But it's still a bad development to come out of the blue.
  • It was very stupid of Oliver, Michaela and Frank to think that the plan to get DNA from their new suspect was a good idea. Connor had his reservations but did it in order to protect Oliver. Too bad that's not going to work out so well.
  • The rest of the team taking a break from work to watch the video Asher recorded at Trotter Lake was so unnecessary. It only added tension to a situation that was already wonderfully tense.
  • Hey Laurel, literally no one cares about you and Frank hooking up. Don't be surprised when Annalise says she doesn't care.
  • Eve and Nate awkwardly discussing their complicated feelings with Annalise was a pretty amusing scene.