Well that was underwhelming.
The first half of the show’s sophomore season was a beast, with episodes burning through plots and twists at a rapid pace leaving us almost breathless, so it’s almost a shame that they ruined their momentum with this confusing hour.
From a writing standpoint, I understand why they’d want to produce such a low-key, calm episode. It’s hard to top the shocking twists and turns the previous installment threw in our faces, and after all the crazy stuff that happened (another murder, Wes shooting Annalise, the Christophe/Wes reveal), the decision to be less twisty and less exciting should come as a relief for us viewers. I know I personally needed a breather after that shocking fall finale.
But perhaps following up that episode with a low-key hour would have worked if there wasn’t a three-month break between the two because the calmness here was a bit dull to watch. Even the episode’s biggest twist (the baby Annalise is seeing does not exist) was a bit underwhelming, perhaps because the decision to have the reveal so soon into the hour made the rest of the proceedings lack excitement. It makes me wonder what effect it would have had if the reveal was left for the final few minutes.
Sadly, even the flashbacks were unexciting as they mostly consist of scenes we’ve already seen in the first half of the season. They do help fill some of the gaps the six-month time jump skips over, but I was distracted by the show’s transition from present-time to flashback. The steady zoom-in past a character’s face was a bit creepy and unnecessary, especially as it’s followed by a zoom-out once the flashback is over. I realize this is a tedious thing to nitpick, but for some reason it irked me the wrong way.
Thankfully, Viola Davis continues to prove she’s the best thing about this show, this time showcasing how she can play a mentally unstable Annalise and still be an incredible character to root for. Her powerful scene with Wes (who returned with more facial hair) at the end was particularly chilling. Neither of them held back, and it was an intense, pulse-pounding scene made all the more remarkable by the episode’s final flashback: a pregnant Annalise meeting Wes’s mother (unsurprisingly the same woman who hands Annalise the non-existing baby earlier) and staring eerily at a young Wes/Christophe playing at a distance.
It’s quite incredible how the show managed to make me care more about the Annalise/Wes mystery and dynamic this season, ultimately making the season’s arc (the Hapstall case) feel like filler in comparison.
Sneaky Courtroom Bits
– Laurel kicks off the episode with ANOTHER lie by taking the blame for Annalise’s shooting. God, I love this show.
– I was mostly surprised that the show did not waste any time filling us in on Annalise’s shooting. Literally just seconds into the episode, we were told that she survived and is doing moderately well. Sure, no one expected her to die, but to jump over such an integral part of what made the fall finale interesting is a cheap move.
– To be fair, the baby-isn’t-real twist was effective as it happened: the camera spinning around Bonnie to reveal she’s only holding an empty blanket is definitely a jaw-dropper. But not only was it soon, the whole thing did feel slightly predictable for me when social media was exploding with tweets wondering “what about the baby”.
– How weird was it to see the spell checker on Frank’s computer?
– Also weird: Connor being much more sympathetic and generally nicer to Asher than Oliver. What exactly happened in these 6 months?
– Laurel is definitely taking center-stage more than ever before. I kinda like it.
– I could have lived without the close-ups of Annalise’s blood wound. Just saying.
– It turns out that Frank’s little stunt at the hospital (pretending to be sad about Annalise’s shooting) was just to plant some of her blood on Catherine. Seriously, this show sometimes.
– At this point, I am a little confused at what’s happening in the Hapstall case. But on the other hand, I hardly ever cared about it anyway.
– Wes mentions why he got off the waitlist, a nice callback from the pilot when most of us still assumed he was her son or something.
– Stunning yet equally heart-wrenching closing shot of Annalise rocking the pretend-baby. What the hell happened to her son, damn-it?
– I do believe this episode works better if you’re binge-watching the season. Again, the long break did not do this premiere any good.
Amusing Keating One-Liners
Bonnie: She’s high on Vicodin and walking around with no pants.
Nate: You protect me, I protect you.
Annalise: Hard to believe.
Nate: Only ‘cause it’s you.
Annalise [to Wes]: I think you ruined me.
An unimpressive premiere that lacks enough excitement. I expected more from this show.