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Review: "How to Get Away with Murder" Season 3 Premiere

Photo from ABC. 

For those living in Shondaland, school is officially back in session!

That’s right y’all, How to Get Away with Murder’s Keating Five have returned to your TV screen for a whole new season of drama, death and dangerously steamy hookups on ABC’s Thursday night primetime. Season 2 had ended on a wild note, with Frank being exiled by Annalise, Oliver jeopardizing his relationship with Connor and Wes’s long-lost father being shot in the head just as he finally gets to introduce himself.

Hopefully that’s enough for you to know why I spent my summer counting down the days until this premiere. If not, you’re either not caught up, or you need a serious refresher!

Season 3 of How to Get Away with Murder (HTGAWM) kicks off with a glimpse of the the major flash forward scene that is meant to have viewers hooked throughout the rest of the season. By the end of the episode we find out that a gurney is carrying one of the central characters into an ambulance as Annalise's house is engulfed in flames. Although we don’t know who exactly lies underneath the white sheet, by the way Annalise is bawling her eyes out at the end, it’s gotta be someone close.

Before these details are revealed in the new season, the episode takes a brief moment to pick up where we left off. Wes tells the police what he had witnessed before getting into a car with Annalise, who is confident Frank had been the one to kill Wes’s father as a way to make amends for his actions years ago, obeying an assignment that involved him potentially killing Annalise and resulting in her miscarriage. Whether or not her suspicions are correct is unbeknownst to us viewers, but what we do know Frank took off and Annalise hired a hitman to go after him. And when you hire a Level 2 hitman to handle a Level 5? Well, let’s just say it ain’t easy. At least he’s doing it in style, trading his fuzzy beard for a sexy new buzz.

Not gonna lie, I just about melted when all that came off and I know I’m not the only one!

All this and I couldn’t help but wonder what Laurel would think. And speaking of Laurel, can we take a moment to talk about how she’s clearly strung up on our good ol’ puppy boy Wes? I mean, it’s a huge step up from Lila in season 1, that’s for sure. But unfortunately for our Latin love, her feelings went unreciprocated, with Wes being more interested in a sweetheart named Meggie (yes, Meggie) than his father’s killer’s ex-girlfriend. Can you blame him? Besides, for someone who watched his father get shot right in front of his very eyes, our Wes is doing awfully well, at least on the surface. It’s a bit surprising for someone who instantly turned dark after his girlfriend went missing in the past. And although he and Analiese shared  a moment releasing their emotional distress through bloodcurdling screams in the woods, I’m not convinced that was enough to count as a total deep cleanse therapeutic session. Meggie must be doing something right - although I’m definitely keeping my eyes on him these next few episodes.

However, appearances don’t exactly tell us everything, as we soon find out the Keating Five somehow became the Failing Five. This was pretty interesting, since Connor and Michaela revealed their rankings were in the 90s in the middle of season 2. However, it was a detail mentioned in such a subtle way that it was super easy for us viewers to forget that they were on the verge of dipping into the bottom 10 percent of their class. It’s nice to see them address this in this season rather than making it seem like getting away with murder while keeping your grades up is some kind of cakewalk.

Since our faves are busy slipping, the screenwriters decided to use this as a perfect time to shine some light on a specific background character from the class, referred to as Mr. Drake. His five minutes of fame ended as soon as Michaela got her shit together and bursted through the doors with case-winning information, but I’m I’m pretty confident he’ll be back in time for us to learn his first name. 

A good deal of the premiere was filled with recaps that allowed us to see what the characters were up to over the summer following the events of the season 2 finale. And when I say summer, I mean, the producers wanted to make it pretty clear you knew what season they were in. I’m talking Annalise was looking like a flannel fanatic as she tended to her garden while her rock-bodied boyfriend had some steaks going on the grill. We get it, it’s summer. Maybe I’m just salty because I didn’t do any grilling these past few months. Regardless, I was just glad they made their point as Annalise took on her motherly role every time she saw the gang. Whether it was refusing to give Asher money to pay his way through school or helping Michaela after she’s almost charged for drug driving, her role is solid. At this point I could do without all the whining they give her, but that’s just how it goes. In turn we see each of them express concern when they find out someone has marked her off as a killer, not knowing exactly what to do (as children may often do).

But before I wrap this up, let’s make sure we have all the relationships straight. We have Annalise and her boyfriend Nate still pushing on (or holding on to dear life more like it...seriously, every time he was on screen I couldn’t help but think, Why are you still here? These past two seasons Analiese has put him through nothing but hell, hot sex and empty apologies. I wouldn’t blame him for leaving, but the audience would probably miss those pecs too much). Then we have the Wes/Laurel/Meggie triangle, Michaela and Asher’s awkward friends with benefits, and most importantly, Oliver and Connor, who are probably one of my favorite on-screen couples of all time. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but let’s just say Connor finds out about what Ollie did about his Stanford email. What happens next takes a slightly unexpected turn.

Overall, I would give the season premiere of How to Get Away with Murder a solid B. I like how the premiere established the overall plot of this season, letting the audience know that the main characters’ performances in class is not just a simple afterthought. With this being a season where the events of the past have only accumulated over time, there’s no denying the Keating Five  are looking to lean on their motherly figure more than ever, even with them thinking they can finally start over and be “normal”, as this episode clearly showed. There wasn’t anything super jaw dropping about the episode, but it wasn’t entirely boring either. It’s moreso knowing what is to come that has me on my toes for this season, as we wait to discover whose body lies in the back of the ambulance.

Absolutely chilling, am I right? While we wait for next week to roll around, feel free to catch up! Seasons 1 and 2 of How to Get Away with Murder are currently streaming on Netflix.

thescene@theeagleonline.com


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