HOLLYWOOD—I love a murder mystery, especially when it’s so twisted and full of terrific acting from an Oscar-winner. Yes, that Oscar-winner will be the great Viola Davis. ABC was well aware it had a hit with “How to Get Away With Murder” when its star made Emmy history by becoming the first African-American woman to win the prize for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series during its first season. Season 1 was stellar, season 2 was quite solid as missing pieces to the puzzle from season 1 came to fruition, and season 3 was indeed a nail bitter as one of the Keating Five bid adieu (later Wes).
However, I was not enamored with the season four premiere. I got the feeling the series is in a state where it’s attempting to do its best to find its footing again. I totally get each season can’t revolve around a murder and the audience’s attempt to put together the clues before the big reveal. I mean season one relied on the flashback theory, whereas season two utilized a flash-forward element to the mix; and season three utilized both.
This episode really opened things on a happy note with many of our characters enjoying a bit of time to digest what has transpired in their lives in the past few months. Laurel is struggling with Wes’ death and being pregnant with his child does not make it any easier. There was a bit of a constant back and forth on rather she would keep the child or not, so the fact that she is still pregnant is important. Seeing her father, portrayed by Esai Morales attempt to bond with his daughter was interested. The father-daughter dynamic is beyond fractured and tense. Why? Laurel is well aware her father killed Wes, and she lied about having an abortion. I mean she was moments from sending that text to her father questioning his role in Wes’ death.
For the past three seasons, Annalise Keating has been at the core of the drama, but this season it looks like Laurel’s character will be the catalyst for how the madness unfolds. Annalise is busy taking care of her mother, portrayed by the great Cicely Tyson, who is suffering from dementia. The acting between these two ladies is phenomenal and the more one thinks about it, the core of Annalise’s issues is a direct result of her tense relationship with her mother.
Her mom is adamant about staying in her home and not being stashed in a retirement home; while Annalise feels it’s for the best to protect her mother from harming herself or someone else. Once she ties up some loose ends, we see her return back home with a new agenda in place, especially with her hearing for disbarment on her mind. Bonnie and Frank are apartment hunting, Asher and Michaela seem to be going strong, and Connor and Oliver are happy, but the idea of marriage is still haunting Connor. He has that mentality, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” So there is a constant battle between the two on what next step they should take in their relationship.
However, the big reveal of the premiere is Annalise bringing the Keating Four to dinner to let them know she is letting them go. One would think the students would be happy with this result, unfortunately they are not. Laurel is upset, but understands, Asher is aloof, Michaela displays the most anger, while Connor seems pleased to finally get what he has always wanted: Annalise out of his life. It’s interesting to see the characters react the way they have reacted. I mean Michaela for the longest has wanted to severe ties with Annalise so to see that happen, when she feels they had an unbreakable bond does not bode well for her. They have formed a family, and in the midst of crisis after crisis, they have had each other’s back.
The one surprise is when Annalise let Bonnie go. Bonnie was not too happy and we see her bounce back fairly quickly to that dismissal by applying for a job with the District Attorney’s office. Yes, Bonnie is about to work for the guy who was dangerously close to take down Annalise, herself and the rest of the gang with his never-ending agenda. Things culminate with Annalise getting a chance to retain her abilities to practice law, but only if she attends therapy sessions with her therapist portrayed by Jimmy Smitts, who is a bit of a mystery. Why?
Those final moments of the episode results in his character and Frank rushing to Laurel’s bedside as she awakens wanting to know what happened to her baby. Yuppers that is the big mystery for the season, a bit of a departure of what we have seen in the past, but a welcome change. Something has happened to Laurel and the baby, and as the season progresses clues will be handed out as to what precisely unfolded. I was scared where season four might be headed, but the change in dynamics has raised my eyebrows. “How to Get Away With Murder” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.