Monday, September 29

1.01 - "Pilot"

I don’t think a new show has secured its place on my weekly watch list faster than How to Get Away With Murder. It immediately grabs your attention from the beginning - a murder mystery involving law students - and it doesn't stop there. The characters themselves have their own secrets, secrets that will eventually lead us to answers.

The episode opens at one loud and busy night in the university campus, but four people (Wes, Connor, Michaela and Laurel) were on a conclave in the woods, completely panic stricken. Their reactions only start to make sense when Wes pulls out a bloodied statue from his bag, leading the group to an argument about what to do with the body. The four of them has found themselves in a murder case, and they were the suspects. When their arguments won’t get them anywhere, Wes suggests flipping a coin, letting the decision lie in fate. 

The scene shifts to a flashback three months prior to the incident, on the first day of class. A missing person report was highlighted as Wes makes his way to class. Besides him, we meet the rest of the characters in a favorable situation, immediately showing off their smarts in class. But who steals the thunder from everyone was the entrance of Annalise Keating, a professor who is also a practicing lawyer. The moment she steps in class, she means business. Her teaching methods doesn't involve theorizing, but rather the practice of using law in real cases. 

She immediately presents them with a case, a case that the whole class except Wes is aware of, only having been accepted in class two days prior (the day she sent the assignment). From the discussion, we already get a glimpse of the ambition these students have, immediately picking out the weak links. The case (attempted murder) they were presented with, however, was a current case. Professor Keating comes up with a challenge that will allow her to choose four students who will work for her, based on their defenses for the said case. Since Wes showed his inability to be prepared for class, he was singled out last to present. The winner of the challenge will be presented with a statue, which the winner can choose to surrender when he or she wishes to pass on an exam. It was through this assignment that we get to meet Keating's colleagues (Frank and Bonnie), as well as the suspect.

While they were all working on the case, the students who pass the first round of testing (based on their defense strategies) were given a chance to observe the case in court. This also gives the students an ability to show their capabilities and resourcefulness, something that Michaela and Connor use in different circumstances. However, Laurel discovers something that can be crucial to the case, but when she mentions it to Frank, he brushes her off, leading her to assume that the camp was already in the know of the situation. Wes, the optimistic student he is, finds a possible defense strategy and immediately reports to Professor Keating, only to find her in an incriminating position that will soon be the center of most of their discussions throughout the episode.

Besides working on the case, the students have been present in a gathering (also a good source for networking), where they encounter Sam, who turns out to be Professor Keating’s husband. She and Dean Thomas had a small talk in where she divulges some personal information (whether that was the truth or a lie has yet to be determined - Keating established in her first day of class that she has seen all lies, so who knows if she herself is a bonafide liar). 

The case they were working on was about to blow wide open when a survaillance tape showing incriminating evidence against the suspect surfaced during the trial. However, Keating had something else up her sleeve when she calls the detective who was the supervisor of the detective who presented the evidence. That detective turns out to be the same man Wes saw in Keating's home. Of course she was going to show why you hire her to defend you, and eventually wins the case. 

Back to class,  Professor Keating announces the winner of the assignment, the statue going over to Connor. She also chooses the students who will join in her firm, including Michaela and Laurel (who is now hinted of starting a relationship with Frank). In a surprise announcement, she decided to hire a fifth person, and that was Wes. Later on, he confronts Professor Keating about why he was hired, and she responds with a respectable reason (though still really dubious). The episode ends with the revelation of the whereabouts of the missing girl (though not confirmed), where she was found in the water tank of the sorority she was last seen in. It immediately hit the news, with Sam watching the coverage when Professor Keating entered the room. They talk about it for a while, with her declared that ‘the bitch or the boyfriend did it’, with the scene panning out (though there might be something with Sam and the missing student) and going back to the present.

While all of that was happening, the scenes occasionally flashes back to the present, where the four were taking care of the body. The bloodied statue was the same statue offered for exam immunity. The location of the death was also in Professor Keating’s house, in which the group used the rug to move the body out from the house. They were almost caught by the police, but Michaela immediately spun a lie about their professor in a funeral. While making their way in the woods, Laurel’s phone rings, showing a photo of Frank in the caller ID. Lastly, when they were setting up to burn the body to get rid of the DNA, it was eventually revealed that the body they were disposing of was Sam, Professor Keating's husband. 

THOUGHTS:

The episode sure throws a lot of mysterious characters to watch out for. The whole episode immediately grabs your attention because of the murder mystery of who the body was, and what happened. It has momentum, and hopefully the whole season keeps that momentum. The show was definitely worth the wait, as there’s so much unanswered questions and many options to explore in order to uncover the events leading to Sam’s death. This season contains 13 episodes, and if it gets more interesting from this point, I don’t think that’s enough.

Viola Davis is amazing. Her character immediately commands attention, and doesn't tolerate crap from anyone. Yet, there’s a patient side of her, that even if she’s strict, she doesn't belittle you for no reason. Similar to Scandal, Viola Davis’s character has a contrast. If Olivia Pope has Quinn, Annalise Keating has Wes Gibbins, the optimistic student who seriously has no idea what he got himself into. I’m not sure if his character is going to gain more focus as the season goes, but so far, he is. 

The episode was well written, already giving formation to the major players of the show. For one, Professor Keating and Wes Gibbins already have a dubious relationship, so choosing him to work for her might be a ploy for keeping him at bay (but then again, he might have potential, so I don’t want to rule that out, we’ll know in the succeeding episodes). The show also hints multiple relationship bumps; besides Laurel and Frank, there's also Bonnie and Sam. It looks like Connor and Michaela will be in competition, while Laurel is going to be played with by Frank. Basically this show will have you doubt everyone and their intentions. There are some more characters that weren't given much focus yet, or how they'll play out in the season - specifically Asher (the other qualified student) and Rebecca, Wes's neighbor. I can’t wait to see where the show goes on from here.

6 comments:

  1. Very nice review for the Pilot! How To Get Away With Murder was something I really wanted to watch this season, but didn't have enough time after the new Scandal premiere to check it out. I'll have to try this Thursday; it sounds great! :)

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    1. Thank you! I think it might follow a similar format as the first season of Scandal did (a different case per episode), but we'll see on Thursday!

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  2. Fantastic review! You made me want to watch this show now. I'm so bad w/ TV shows, I just seem to be discipline enough to watch 'em every week, but once it's out on Netflix or Amazon I might binge on them! Viola Davis is amazing indeed. I just did a recasting post and I'd love to see her in a prominent FILM role like this one, that's why I cast her as Karen Chowder in Michael Clayton.

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    1. Thank you! It's only 13 episodes for the season, so it's easy to binge watch (as opposed to 23-24 episode shows). Hopefully the show keeps its current momentum.

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  3. I liked it.. I wasn't very sure of it though.. but I'll keep wtahcing it because I always enjoy Shonda's first seasons.. it's the following ones that seem to either break me or throw me away. :D

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    1. I know how you feel; I had the same issue with Scandal. It's a great show, but I really loved the first season and was hoping they kept the dynamic. This show though is definitely on my weekly watch list.

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