Thursday nights won’t be the same without Shondaland’s How to Get Away with Murder to keep us company anymore, that’s for sure. It’s weird, but the show is finally over. And with it, all the mysteries, tension-driven Annalise courtroom dramas, and pleasant moments of listening to Tegan pronounce the villainous Castillo surname as Cas-TEE-yoes.
After six seasons, multiple deaths, mindboggling questions, and measurably satisfying answers, there’s almost no doubt the show has done well for itself. Watching the electrifying series finale, we can also agree it served its characters well and gave them different doses of poetic justice.
But the question now is, how did it achieve all that? Now that the show is over, it’s easier to view the whole thing in retrospect and try to figure out which parts of the road leading to the finale worked fine, and which parts weren’t all that great.
Don’t worry, you won’t end up hating the show, its legacy is already cemented. It’s our opinion. You don’t need to take it that seriously, unless you think we’re right, too.
The Show’s Big Bad. Who?
Every show needs an overarching big bad, right? For ‘Game of Thrones’, that was the Night King. For ‘The Vampire Diaries’, we can also agree that was the elusive Katherine Pierce.
A hero is only as good as the villain they contend with. And for everything we loved about Viola Davis’ portrayal of the fierce Law Professor, Annalise Keating, neither Governor Lynne Birkhead, Jorge or Xavier Castillo come close in opposing measure.
For the benefit of the doubt, this isn’t to apportion blame on the actors, I think they all did good jobs with what they were given. Birkhead’s cold, unconcerned demeanor is something to be desire, but it just wasn’t good enough for her to be taken as a real threat by me (the viewers). As the show ends, the inner workings of Birkhead’s mind remains shrouded in mystery, and her real motivations remain unknown until the very end, which shouldn’t have been. How does a public servant get so pissed at one citizen, to the point that she piles up countless murders just to take her down? Pretty sloppy if you ask me.
It’d have been great if the show shone a little more light on her and the Castillos, too. It would’ve greatly helped us (the fans) understand why they all did what they did, and why trying to ruin Annalise was so damn important to them, other than implying it was to make a statement.
Nate’s Hatred for Annalise.
When we first met Nate, he was a police officer; not sure if he was decorated, but he was a man with a dying wife, still serving and protecting lives. Annalise happened. Then we saw Nate the adulterer; the widower; a son estranged from his father; a son trying to fix things with his father; and, finally, a son without one. It was a mixture of fun and sadness following Nate through his journey, but that was before he started to hate Annalise for a next-to-no reason.
Now, I know AK framed him for Sam’s murder to help those ungrateful kids in season one, and I’m not trying to justify that. But she did atone for that sin. That should count for something, right?
She also tried getting his old man out of jail. And, although Nate Lahey Sr. died, on the orders of the Governor (another lame thing the Governor did without us understanding her true motives) Nate Jr. knew who was responsible. He knew Annalise did everything she could to help his dad, so I never really did understand his whole anger against her, even going as far as agreeing to be an informant for the FBI against her.
Not to forget his double stunt at murder; RIP DA Ronald Miller, Nate had more dirt on his hands than a lot of the other characters. All those talks about forgiving Annalise in the finale; man really did get away with murder(s) and to think he never attended Annalise’s class.
Michaela isn’t Really a Bad Person.
Talking about people who attended Annalise’s classes – Michaela Pratt deserves a spot on the Hall of Fame for b*tchy attitude.
If desperate ambition could be personified, Lord knows Michaela would fit that bill. Same Lord knows I hated her for a very, very long time. Gosh! That girl was so annoying. And that’s a testament to the top-notch performance Aja Naomi King put into the role.
But, is Michaela a bad person for wanting to be somebody in a world that’s mostly seen her as a nobody? I don’t think so.
Yeah, maybe her approach was aggressive, but there isn’t really anything wrong with putting yourself first every time. No law against that. The only logical end to such an ambitious, selfish character is allowing her get everything she ever wanted but at the expense of her relationships. The show does a good job of portraying that in the finale.
Having ambition is good. Ambition gets you your heart desires, most of the time. In the case of Michaela, it’s a judgeship. But, at what cost? The loss of her one-time friends and (hypothetically speaking) her children. Remember this scene? 👇
Some people are willing to pay such a hefty price, Michaela’s one of such. If you think about it, she’s the only one who really did pass Annalise’s classes_ she survived and got away with…
Frank: A Keating²
I remember when we first met Frank and I couldn’t understand his devotion to Annalise Keating. It wasn’t until the backstory episode aired and I understood how much of his life he owed to that very-forgiving woman. And for the most part of it, I enjoyed watching him grow in and out of AK’s shadow, beating himself for what he did. And his zeal to want to become a better person, first for Laurel, and then for Bonnie.
I appreciated that character growth.
Then, came the whirlwind plot twist from hell (typical HTGAWM style). And just like that, Frank was revealed to not just be a Keating, but a Keating birthed by another Keating. Really, Murder Writers?
A few years ago, such an incest storyline would’ve been a BIG shocker, but not in this post GOT world.
I thought that plot was a bad idea, and really prayed against its confirmation after it got teased in the final moments of “What if Sam wasn’t the bad guy this whole time” – s06e13. We all know how that turned out.
The revelation may have explained some of Sam and Hannah’s motives, but it doesn’t excuse any of the atrocious things either of them did, especially the former and how he treated Frank. Once that secret came to light, I knew there was only one way Frank’s story would end — if the guilt of Annalise’s son could still be eating him up after all those years, imagine what’d happen when the label changes and he realizes that not only did he mortgaged the life of his unborn baby brother for a few thousand dollars, but that his father also sent him to kill another of his unborn sibling?
It’s Frank, the guilt would eat him alive.
And since there’s no Sam or Hannah to take out his frustration on, he’d go for the next best thing. I think that was an easy way for the show writers to tie off Birkhead, Hannah, Frank, and Bonnie’s stories.
Hannah’s Death was Lazy Writing. Yeah, I Finally Said It!
Still talking about loose cannons. I think Hannah’s death, the way it happened, was an easy route the show took to avoid unnecessary confrontation with Frank, which would’ve meant more airtime.
Who better to pin her death on than the Governor whose tab never gets full?
With all these intricate, last-minute plotting, it’s still a wonder how this show managed to get away nearly unscathed?
Gabriel was Underutilized
I don’t think I can ever forget the excitement I felt when Gabriel was introduced to the show_ s04e15.
Frank’s words in that season’s finale were: “the kid’s here” and they launched a new division of HTGAWM sleuths hoping to solve the mystery before the show returned for the next (5th) season.
The road towards his revelation as Sam’s only surviving child (before Frank entered the contest) took up a lot of screen time and, sadly, didn’t amount to much for we the viewers.
I think Rome Flynn is an amazing actor almost as good as his looks, or maybe better. But, boy, was he underutilized?!
He never really escaped being under Sam’s shadow.
The whole reason for his existence on the show was to bug everyone for the truth about how his dad died. And, while it was initially sad to watch Michaela and the others play him around like a ball, the end of his story arc didn’t leave much to pity anymore.
In the end, he gave up years of searching for the truth in exchange for a lot of coins and sob words from Frank to not let Sam ruin his life, too. Everyone has a price, and I guess Gabriel finally realized he needed to secure the bag for himself and his mom more than he needed to hear more painful truths about Sam.
I’ll just say this… If the FBI in real-life is anything as portrayed on the show, the whole of the USA is in trouble. Why did that Agent Pollock have to kill Asher?
Enough gloom about the show. How about I highlight some of the things I thought worked with the finale?
So, What Worked?
Annalise’s not-guilty verdict. She’s worked so hard and technically, remains innocent until the fact, to go to jail again for crimes she didn’t commit. More beautiful is that she went on to live a long, beautiful life with Tegan (and some other faceless people) … and that funeral eulogy from Eve. BEAUTIFUL!
Connor going to prison for 5 years and Oliver waiting for him. That was beautiful, and true to both character’s individual journeys and love together.
The fast-forward in time to reveal Alfred Enoch as Christopher and not Wes. That was really good.
The Bonnie and Clyde parallel to Bonnie and Frank’s end.
That’s about it…
Tell me if there’s a mostly unspoken truth about the show/ the series finale I missed, in the comment below.