Guest Review How To Get Away With Murder

How To Get Away With Murder 3×05 – It’s About Frank

“Go big or go home.”

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Remember when The Affair spent half an episode where Maura Tierney’s character was on drugs? Yeah, this was nothing like that.

It’s almost shameful to even compare these two shows, but watching a drunk Annalise dancing, drinking and sharing another awkward, incestuous conversation with Wes reminded me of the characters on The Affair. Just like on Murder, we have very flawed characters on that show, but unlike Murder, we actually care about – and are rooting for – those people. While Viola Davis might still be knocking it out of the park for some (although that’s become questionable for me this season), there’s a point where you stop caring so much, you wouldn’t even care who was dying in three weeks.

Not only is It’s About Frank quite underwhelming in its drunk-Annalise subplot, but also it’s simply a very flawed hour of television. There isn’t even a real plot here, and while I usually hate the weekly cases, this one might have actually needed one. It’s like this show is either completely overstuffed or downright empty, and never consistent in either case.

With the absence of a client for the gang to help, the writers had to explore the show’s more serialized elements – only, those parts are reserved for the flashforwards. We’ve been promised that the stuff that happens in the future are much more exciting (even Bonnie’s Liza Weil said so herself in a recent interview), so we’re left with unentertaining filler at the moment. For example, the reveal that Simon, another awful university student, was the mastermind behind Annalise’s “killer” flyers was an incredibly weak twist that even the episode plays it as an afterthought.

Shockingly, I found that Frank and Bonnie were the highlight of the hour. For once, the show actually gave us two extremely vulnerable characters who, when put in an impossible situation, found comfort in each other’s arms. While I rolled my eyes when Laurel and Wes ended up spilling the beans to Annalise with Bonnie making a melodramatic entrance, I still found that this episode at least did something right and it lasted a whole minute.

Murderous Bits

– I also really wanted to talk about how this show is still the most negative thing I’ve seen on television, but Bonnie brought that message home better when she calmly asks to cremate her pedophilic father.

– Mary J Blige has a brief scene in the salon as Annalise’s hairdresser. It was nice but didn’t feel like it existed in the show’s world.

– All the Frank flashbacks weren’t very riveting, but we do see a pattern now: Frank has attempted to kill his dad, succeeded to murder Bonnie’s and even admitted to killing Wes’. Does that mean the Mahoney murder is solved?

– With that said, I actually miss Sam. Is that horrible?

– Soraya, the university president, is just a creep now. Is she stalking Annalise to Alcoholics Anonymous or was that a freaky coincidence?

– Loved the drums playing during the montage following Annalise cleaning up all the alcohol in her house. But the dramatic tension as she brought one bottle up to her lips before sucking on the whole thing? Atrocious. When do we expect the show to promote the bottle to series regular?

– Oddly, Michaela blowing up at Simon was satisfying. I hate that guy.

– Glad to see that the Annalise/Wes dynamic is still uncomfortable and gross.

– Michaela is alive in the flashforward! And her mother is…Brett Butler?

– ABC keeps promoting “who is #UnderTheSheet” like crazy, and the cliffhanger reveals it’s a male. What a lazy, uninspired twist. And please be Wes or Nate.

Courtroom Exchanges

Frank: I can’t go back. Even if she says she’ll forgive me, she can’t. And maybe I don’t have to go back. Maybe neither of us do. Run away with me. You’re not happy in that house. Nobody ever is. But you, out of all, deserve to be. Find some boring town, get normal jobs, make a family. We’d have cute babies, no?
(Bonnie tears up)
Frank: I’m only teasing. You mind if I turn on the TV?

Laurel: Maybe this just means we’re finally free.
Wes: Free of what?
Laurel: Her.

Michaela: (to Simon) Go anywhere near my bag or anyone else’s in this room and your laptop won’t be all you’re missing, you spineless, tiny-balled, whiny excuse of a man.

Must-Download Tunes
Let Go by Son Lux

Conclusion
A weak hour devoid of any substance, momentum or entertainment. Can we flash-forward three weeks and get to the good stuff already?

Chris Rating
C

4 comments

  1. It’s safe to say you didn’t enjoy this episode at all. lol I’m conflicted with your show and the review because on one hand I agree with some of your statements, but on the other I don’t. Overall I think this is a good episode to comment and post about some of the problems HTGAWM is having in a broader sense and what I think I could have done to execute them better throughout the show.

    Likeability
    Out of all of them, I think this is the least on my nitpick list. On some level it’d make sense that the characters would be cold given the environment and things they went through. Even so, I think there could be more effort into making the characters sympathetic. A lot of the highlights of season 2 were the flashbacks of the second half showing Annalise as someone who genuinely wanted to do the right thing for Wes while still having a hardened persona. As a viewer I felt sympathetic for her and still did in this episode. Bringing up another point you mentioned about Bonnie and her dad, I think her reaction as calmly as it was justified given what he did to her, but since we don’t have her flashbacks to tell her story like we did with Frank’s it’s hard to connect.

    Advanced planning/structure
    As a whole, I think the show has been good at planting plot pieces/characters they can expand upon later, but this season they’ve seemed to falter. For example, there have been subtle ones such as the Annalise/Wes connection as early as season 1 and even the Sam/Frank connection. In contrast we’ve seen some not so good set ups such as this season with the introduction of characters like Meggy, Simon Drake, President Hardgrove, and the new ADA Atwood whom all don’t feel like “bad” characters per se, but their introduction feels like something that should have been introduced earlier to really make their presences warranted and actions have some weight. Compare this to how ADA Sinclair from last season came in the season prior or even Eve & Levi/Eggs 911 whom we didn’t see but had a reference to in the season before. There have also been some complete duds like as the Hapstall kids/case who were introduced as new characters but didn’t really have much bearing on any of the characters past but took up a good chunk of their attention/episode time in the present timeline.

    Plot Balance
    In order for the show to function with the current format we have, it has several jobs to do at once
    – Tell the story of a case of the week sometimes
    – Tell a present day story which leads up to a flash-forward event
    – Occasionally reveal back stories of Annalise/pre-Keating Five characters
    – Potentially delve into the back stories of the Keating Five
    – Finally, balance all of these into one cohesive thread
    It’s a big task, but I think the main thing for this would be to have had Annalise’s backstory planned out in depth and implementing the sepia colored flashbacks sooner. In the present day, the COTW seem to be hit or miss, so the best way to handle that would have been to have cases which related to a specific member of the Keating Five’s back story so that way they’d have a bit more impact.

    That was a really lengthy post (sorry) , but I think it all ties back to what last week's episode was saying about the show needing an endgame/end date. If this was implemented from the get go, or even now it'd make for some stronger tighter writing.

  2. Haha thanks for that lengthy comment. Loved reading your thoughts on this.

    I agree about the university president and Simon being one-dimensional characters that we simply don't care for. Sinclair was a great villain last year and even when the Hapstall case became too convoluted and uninteresting, I still enjoyed watching the Keating Five interact with them on a weekly basis. They actually had a relationship with them (unlike Soraya, Simon and Atwood this year).

    But that's another thing that bothers me about this show. They've NEVER mentioned Sinclair or the Hapstalls since last season, which makes this show even less grounded in reality. These are people that were a HUGE part of your life last year and you just never mention them anymore? That's a huge glaring issue for me.

    One last thing: about the advanced planning/structure. The writers have lost all credibility in that area ever since they honestly revealed that every season they're just making stuff up as they go. In season 1, they admitted they didn't know who Sam's killer was going to be. Same for season 2 and Annalise's shooter and now this season. Yes, this year they did know who they were killing off (under the sheet) because they basically had to fire that actor but they still didn't know how we're going to GET to that moment. I hate when writers admit they have no idea where a season is going. I want my shows (or seasons, at least) to be well-plotted and well-written from beginning to end. It's not a lot to ask, especially during a time where we really do have TONS of well-written shows.

    Hope this show gets better! Thanks for commenting again 😀

  3. No problem.

    I also think it’s odd not mentioning the main case of last season, save for a reference of Katherine written on a piece of paper as one of Annalise’s enemies who might have been putting the flyers up. Not that I wanted more of the Hapstall story, but they implied in the finale and said in interviews that it wasn’t completely done so it makes it seem like a false ending. At the same time, the characters have also mentioned safe” , but its very vague as you don’t know if they’re talking about the events from last season or the Mahoney case. I think it speaks to your point of not having things planned out, because while I enjoyed the finale of last year, all of the Hapstall stuff regarding it seemed to fizzle out and come to a random/rushed conclusion. If that’s the case, then we could have easily been spared that being the over arching case/mystery of the season.
    Since this show is only 15 or 16 episodes, I think it’d be pretty easy to plan the entire seasons in advance with specific details outlined, but I can’t say what the writers do or don’t do as I’m not in the room. What I can say is that it seems like the seasons often seemed stuffed and could. The mid season finale seems to be the most important event structure wise so It’d be best to probably write that in detail first and then the front and back half’s of the rest of the season.

    Even though there are times where the show can be fast and over the top, I still maintain that it hasn't gone completely off the rails like Scandal has. Still, there are a lot of little things it does that could use some tweaks to make it go from good to great . I love the performances the actors give week to week (specifically Viola as Annalise) so I just want the writing to be on par with it.

    I’m holding out for the mid season finale to be good, but its interesting you said they wanted to fire the person who is underneath the sheet. Does that mean the twist is already spoiled?

  4. They're keeping it a secret so far. All they're saying is that it was very sad to say goodbye to the actor, so at least that means it's definitely one of the main characters. I don't think they're bold enough to kill off Connor or Wes, so I think it's going to be Asher.

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