What an unexpectedly quiet finale.
It’s odd that the show went for so much more backstory on Annalise’s family in the season’s final hour when there were plenty of loose ends to tie and several storylines to juggle. As much as I wanted to explore more of Annalise’s dynamics with her sister, estranged father, and hilarious mother (an outstanding performance once again by Cicely Tyson), it didn’t quite feel like a season finale. But more so than that, it didn’t feel like an episode of How To Get Away With Murder.
Creator Peter Nowalk (who also wrote this finale) mentioned in a recent interview that he wanted to bring back Annalise’s mother for season two no matter what, but I do wish they’d brought her in sooner because not only is Tyson’s presence absolutely electrifying (especially around the exceptional Viola Davis), but also because it’s distracting to have her in an episode that’s supposed to be event-filled and pulse-pounding.
Even the Hapstall case seemed to just fizzle out in the end, like it’s a mere afterthought, and while I’m happy we won’t see or hear about Caleb or the horrendous Catherine ever again, this entire arc felt tied up way too neatly and conveniently. Caleb turning out to be the mastermind serial killer after the season tried (and failed) to build up Philip as the psychopath was too perfect. Even the reveal was sloppy as it relied on a “tell, not show” gimmick, and that’s never a good thing. Poor Michaela, her taste in men continues to be the worst.
Even though this finale stumbled in all of those areas, though, there’s no denying this show knows how to craft a cliffhanger. The final five minutes are some of the most pulse-pounding yet equally heart-wrenching moments I’ve seen all year. Annalise and Bonnie’s fantastic faceoff (quoted below) followed by the several fake-outs involving Laurel at Frank’s home are all excellently executed, especially as they’re even more brilliant than the cliffhanger involving Wes standing in front of Mahoney seconds before he’s shot to the ground. Of course we need a new murder going into the show’s third season, and while no one really cares about Mahoney’s death it’ll be interesting to see how the show spins several theories around the possible killer(s).
For all of its faults, Murder proved that while ridiculously unrealistic and soapy in its exterior, it’s still one hell of an entertaining show. It improved so much in its sophomore season, constantly delivering twists at every turn, and even in its quieter, less stressful episodes (like in the past couple of weeks), it still knows how to go out with a bang.
Sneaky Courtroom Bits
– Wes and Laurel almost kissed (again)! There’s one subplot we know the show is going to have fun with next season.
– In other news, it looks like Michaela and Asher don’t regret sleeping together at all! In fact, they almost did it again…on Annalise’s bed.
– I can never get enough of Annalise’s mother calling her Anna Mae.
– Nate is getting a lot more screen-time than I want. But it was hysterical seeing Annalise’s ma and sister swooning over him, especially as it made Annalise uncomfortable.
– I love that the show uses flashbacks right in between dialogue like when Asher asks Michaela that they should talk about “you know” – then smash cut to flashbacks of them making out last week. What started out as distracting and mind-boggling in season one (remember the spinning cheerleader?) has evolved into quite the amusing storytelling tactic this year.
– Annalise dancing with her friends and family was so awkward. Again, I really wish this subplot was part of the penultimate episode or any hour that isn’t the finale.
– Call me gullible but I genuinely didn’t expect that Annalise’s car accident which cost her the baby (would’ve been named Sam Jr.) was actually intentional, and Frank’s fault of all people! I definitely want to see more of the mystery lady who gave Frank the bag full of cash.
– Seriously though, how terrible is Catherine?
– Oliver is officially part of the Keating team now, right? Deleting Connor’s email from Stanford and lying to him sure seems pretty evil. Sidenote: Conrad Ricamora (who plays the Sweet O) has been promoted to series regular for next season.
– Love Annalise’s facial expressions as she listens to the messages left on her voicemail.
– Chilling scene between Annalise and Bonnie in the end, topped by Annalise’s “he needs to go” comment. Clearly, she means Frank at the time but after watching that cliffhanger, is it possible Annalise was talking about Mahoney? Did she have Frank kill him to avenge her son’s death and simultaneously have Frank pay for what he did 10 years ago?
– It looks like the writers will explore the Frank/Sam connection next year. I’m intrigued to see how Sam found Frank and saved him “from the gutter”, but I’m mostly still surprised how much they redeemed Sam in the back half of this season.
– So that’s why Frank owed Sam which lead him to strangle Lyla Stangard on Sam’s behalf.
– Absolutely LOVED all the tense fake-outs with Laurel at Frank’s home. I’m still shocked he wasn’t found dead in the closet.
– On that note, have you started speculating about the identity of Mahoney’s killer yet? I’m trying not to make my head spin for the next 7 months, but feel free to jot down your theories in the comments!
Amusing Keating One-Liners
Olive: Shouldn’t we be calling the police?
Asher: No, no, no, O-man. We don’t trust the po-po in this house.
Ophelia: In a few minutes, you’ll have some people coming up here. And you up here under these covers looking like “who shot John?”
Man [sees Annalise]: Is that Michelle Obama?!
Annalise: I hate you.
Ophelia: You love me. Everybody love me.
Ophelia: Anna Mae, the reason why you feel it’s so hard is because you’re trying to do it all alone.
Connor: Are we supposed to believe any of this?
Laurel: Haven’t you learned not to ask that question by now?
Oliver: True or not, she’s brilliant.
Bonnie: He held it over him. All this time.
Annalise: Why do you keep doing it, believing what men tell you?
Bonnie: It was Sam.
Annalise: It was the both of them. But I thought I did it. I thought I killed him. They let me believe that. (Pause) Where is he?
Bonnie: Home. (Pause) Annalise…
Annalise: He needs to go.
Must Download Tunes
Too Bright by Perfume Genius
A surprisingly low-key finale topped by an outstanding and intense final sequence.