The sun has set on another Shondaland show, and thankfully (some of) our hair follicles are still intact.
As much as I appreciate a complex and well-written plot, there were SO many details that it became borderline cumbersome and convoluted. Some of the flashbacks are like DAMN, were we supposed to remember all that? All these overlapping motives, I cannae remember them all.
One thing HTGAWM must be commended for is the remarkable character development. Impressively enough, the actor who played Sam Keating managed to stay on the payroll for all six seasons despite being bumped off in season one. Each season revealed a new sinister layer to Sam, furthering our understanding of his character and every character in proximity to him.
Sam is the catalyst, the original villain, and essentially everybody else’s villain origin story. Is this realistic though? Was this a way to get out of examining Annalise’s flaws; a convenient bad white man to take the blame for the shenanigans? As imperfect as Annalise was, Sam turned out to be so immeasurably bad he’d have made anybody look like an angel. I mean, INCEST? And all because they had *checks notes*… inattentive parents…that’s it? *Alexa play, Super Rich Kids by Frank Ocean*
Each revelation combined with the karmic endings of the characters can only lead me to conclude that Annalise and associates were trauma-bonding this whole time. Let’s look at them one by one…
Bonnie is just the most tragic character there ever was isn’t she, bless her heart. She just never got a break, hence why that forlorn look became tattooed on her face. All her attempts to make things right end up making them disastrously and often fatefully wrong. After surviving a traumatic childhood, she is then manipulated by Sam, to then get involved with the Keating 5 murders, to then murder the one man who truly loved her functionally, to then get fired from the DA’s office at the start of season 6 and later again by Tegan from Caplan & Gold. To top it all off, she finally loses the one person who was just as messed up as she was. Frank.
Frank. Frank was doomed from the start and he didn’t even know it. This was only ever going to be the fitting end for Frank who couldn’t live with himself knowing truly who he was and the things he had done. Frank is such a layered character played astoundingly well and convincingly by Charlie Weber. Frank slowly losing it throughout the finale episode was a treat to watch as the character reckons with so many truths and tries to figure out how to make things right. Frank’s death can be interpreted as a mercy killing, and as heart-breaking as the double homicide of Bonnie and Clyde- I mean Bonnie and Frank was, it freed them from their torment and allowed them to finally be together in the end.
By season 6 I am over Connor’s self-flagellation and desire to be punished for all their sins. In the grand scheme of things, he never actually murdered anybody over the course of six seasons, so why was that guilt eating away at him? Wanting to find out why he was picked and getting a seemingly unsatisfactory answer was enough to send him over the edge, and I think this came from a longing to have purpose amidst the madness. Wes, Michaela and Asher to an extent all had emotionally charged reasons for their selection in the K5 and it seemed Connor was simply chosen because he could do the job. Loving and protecting Oliver gave Connor the purpose he’d been searching for hence why he was willing to be a sacrificial lamb and do jail time for crimes he wasn’t wholly culpable for. It was cute at first but it got boring.
I was rooting for Michaela but connecting with her father seemed to make her character take a turn for the worse this season. Michaela has always been an ambitious go-getter, but earlier seasons showed us that she is also loyal and compassionate. Snaking Connor out after the wholesome and realistic friendship they had built over the course of the show was just so out of character and disappointing to watch. Speak less of the slanderous dressing down of Annalise when Michaela testified against her. To an extent I understood it though, Michaela had a rough start to life with her adoptive parents and she has learned to survive by any means necessary.
Michaela fading out of the lives of the others was due to her putting this survival instinct ahead of everything and everyone else which is sad but on brand for her now I guess. I’m excited to see Aja Naomi King take on new roles because she is a sensational actress with a vast emotional range. Sidenote: was it just me that was getting angry at the hair department for dropping the quality of Michaela’s wigs this season? Just me? Ok.
I was so happy to see Annalise living for Annalise this season. She went to rehab, she went on dates, she formed a friendship with Tegan that wasn’t co-dependent. Sure, she attempted to run away and start a new life with the ‘Justine’ rebrand which lasted all of five minutes, but who hasn’t?!
Annalise is written as this enticing, alluring enigma that people who encounter are futile to, and I love it. I love a loved Black woman. Who else could play a woman as nuanced and complex as Annalise other than the formidable, award-winning Viola Davis. In the penultimate episode we got to hear Annalise’s inner dialogue which was executed brilliantly. We normally see her as this all-knowing character who is able to predict and foreshadow her opponents’ moves so it humanised her to witness her thought process. Annalise’s heart-to-hearts with her mother Ophelia played by the late, great Cicely Tyson also added so much to her character in terms of seeing her vulnerabilities. I always remember the scene in which Ms Ophelia is greasing Annalise’s scalp and it was heart-warming to watch a character who is constantly having to mother everyone else, receive that treatment herself.
The final season said a lot about identity politics too, from bringing up Annalise’s bisexuality again to highlighting that Black women have to intentionally soften their appearance to appear innocent or attain sympathy. Michaela’s dad advising her to wear pink to look like a ‘victim’ came from the same place that Annalise’s hair politics when getting ready for court came from. Trying on different wigs and denoting their associations made me think about hair being a non-issue for non-black people preparing their defence in trial. I loved that Annalise opted to go natural, and as much as hair shouldn’t make a statement, it definitely rounded off all the seasons where we normally see her in court with a bouncy Malaysian unit on her head.
Nate was low-key annoying this season with his suspicions of Tegan and collusion with the FBI. He made it right though by coming through for Annalise in the finale and teasing us with that lovely nudey scene. Come to think of it, Nate is the only one who truly got away with murder, as the only surviving murderer left on the show. What a guy.
Speaking of Tegan, I was so here for her character development this season. She went from supporting cast member to key player and it worked really well. To the extent that we were invested in her relationship with Cora, potential relationship with Annalise and maintenance of her pompadour updo. Amirah Vann deserves her accolades. One thing that I’m left wondering is why Tegan seemed so unphased, almost relieved by Emmet’s death. Was this a deliberate misdirection from the writers to arouse suspicion of her character? It kind of went unexplored and I really wanted to know why she threw his glasses in the bin like it was used tissue!
I’m not sure how I felt about the montage into Annalise’s aging future and the use of prosthetics. It was a bit gimmicky but pleasing to see she lives a fulfilling life full of love and happiness after the trial. It’s not everyday Annalise must suffer!
Bringing the delightful Alfred Enoch back to play future baby Christopher was naughty but genius! I don’t think anybody saw that coming. The fact that adult Christopher didn’t recognise Connor and Oliver who were literally his godparents was such tragic irony and pointed to the fact that they all really went their separate ways after the trial. How far in the future was Annalise’s funeral anyway because Christopher looked about 33 and Laurel looked 80, so either she aged horribly, or the math isn’t mathing here.
The tension building between the revelation of Asher as the informant and his eventual death was such a testament to the suspenseful writing skill of the creators. Seeing all the murders laid out on the table in episode 10 really put things into perspective but most of all confirmed that Annalise is innocent! She literally killed nobody ever, but she was the prime suspect every time. Annalise seemed to be an allegory for how the world depends on Black women to save them and repays her with hardship and ingratitude.
Catch all six seasons of How to Get Away with Murder on Netflix.