Welcome to the How to Get Away with Murder, the newest project from Shondaland Productions and the brain child of Peter Nowalk (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal). This pilot episode had everything you want in a legal drama: a juicy case of a mistress accused of murdering her lover, a group of beautiful albeit green law students, and Academy-Award Nominee Viola Davis as Annalise Keating running the show. Annalise is Machiavelli’s wet dream – she wants results at any cost. Morals, virtues, and law theories are expendable and exist to be bartered.
The Students | Three months ago first year law students Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), Asher Millstone (Matt McGorry), Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) were thrown headfirst into Professor Keating’s class. Wes is in so far over his head he can’t even see the sun. He’s the happy-go-lucky puppy that sees the good in everyone. There always has to be a suck up and it’s Michaela, while Laurel holds down the moral high ground. Conner is basically a means-to-an-end kind of guy and Asher is the token obnoxious student.
Flip back to the present and all five are in the middle of trying to dispose of a body, and clean up evidence in Annalise’s office/house. Clearly, some things have gone awry over the last three months.
The Case | All five successfully come up with strategies to defend Annalise’s client, Gina Sadowski, in class and are invited to work in Annalise’s office with her other associates Frank Delfino (Charlie Weber) and Bonnie Winterbottom (Liza Weil) on the case. While getting their feet wet with the law, the kids are also in a fierce competition to win an immunity statue, allowing them a free pass on any exam. Who wouldn’t play dirty to win it?? And that’s exactly what Connor does by seducing an IT guy to garner access to emails. Michaela figures out a key witness is color blind, while Laurel learns that the mistress and wife were in on the poisoning together and is banging Frank on the side.
The Professor | Annalise is the puppet master watching these fools trying to outdo each in the competition, using their spoils to run her defense. She honestly does not care that her client is guilty, she just asks for complete submission from her client and students. And her lover, detective Nate Leahy (Billy Brown). She has zero qualms about calling her married lover up to testify when her case goes to hell in a hand basket. In fact, Annalise baits, cajoles, and mocks him while interrogating him on the stand all the while planting enough seeds of doubt to get the jury to acquit her client. FYI Bonnie knows about the real relationship between Annalise and Nate.
Have I mentioned that Wes accidentally walked in on Annalise and her lover getting down and dirty in her office? Or his deer in the headlights look when he met her husband, Sam Keating (Tom Verica) at a law school social? Or her little damsel in distress/sexy victim routine to get Wes to keep his mouth shut? You just want to tell Wes “It’s ok, go play in the sandbox while the adults talk,” whenever he approaches Annalise.
The Missing Coed | While all this is going on for the kids, a coed named Lila Stangard has gone missing from campus. It just so happens that Lila’s best friend lives next to Wes in one of the most depressing apts in all of tv. Also, Lila was one of Sam’s psych students and most definitely someone he was banging on the side. Not surprisingly, Annalise appears to know this information while Sam remains clueless that his wife in omniscient. He also appears clueless that Bonnie wants to ride him until the cows come home, but he’s male so let’s chalk that up to the XY chromosome.
The Body | The entire episode the kids are trying to get rid of this unidentified body from Annalise’s house. They manage to get it to the woods and burn it during the one night the campus is basically a shit show of drunken college students setting things on fire for a bonfire. Turns out that body is none other than Sam, Annalise’s husband. Say what now?? There’s about 328 more questions generated from the last 2 minutes of the show than the entire episode.