HOLLYWOOD—Shonda Rhimes is the woman with the golden touch. It seems like almost everything she creates is gold. First she introduced audiences to the medical arena with “Grey’s Anatomy,” then she parlayed that success into the world of politics with “Scandal” and now we enter the legal arena with “How to Get Away with Murder.”
So what makes “Murder” stand out compared to its counterparts, it has to be the high-caliber acting from its star, Oscar-nominee Viola Davis. We haven’t seen Davis is such a delicious, gritty role as a professor and defense attorney who would make a fan out of anyone she converses with.
Professor Annalise Keating is a woman who wields a major amount of power and has a ton of fun doing it with her naïve students and not so wise colleagues. I can’t imagine the last time seeing such a juicy role for a woman on a television drama.
The episode opened on the campus of a prestigious university in Philadelphia where a bunch of students were engaging in some very bad behavior. A group of students discussing the issue of a murder that has just taken place. The students are up in roars about the best way to cover their tracks and flipping a coin to determine their fate. Of course, the mystery would rewind three months earlier where the face of a missing woman is plastered all over the bulletin board.
We meet Wes (Alfred Enoch) who is a bit of a novice in the legal arena. He receives the cold shoulder from Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), who has a cold heart with words and looks. Professor Keating took a beating on her students by placing front and center in the hot seat. Trust me the feeling is not one that any student of higher education wants to experience. Looks like Laurel (Karla Souza) and Wes will be allies. Wow, the students were given the opportunity to present their best defense in a real case, just as a flashback scene revealed Michaela, Wes, Laurel and Connor (Jack Falahee) attempting to do their best to cover up a crime by framing their mentor.
She laid out the rules to get away with murder: 1) discredit the witness 2) find a new suspect 3) bury the evidence. This eventually leads her students attending actual testimony for her professor as she grills the witness while on the stand. Pratt got an edge, but not the trophy yet. When Wes stumbles upon his professor getting frisky, it initiates a new game between teacher and student to determine who has the upper hand. Connor is a character that will deliver a love/hate relationship with the audience as he uses seduction to get what he wants.
From inside the stall Laurel spies an interesting moment between the defendant and plaintiff, just as Wes has found the evidence that he can use against the big bad wolf. Another flash forward shows the students planning to bury the body. Laurel received a phone call from Frank (Charlie Weber) that alerted Michaela as to why he would be calling her. Keating puts on the charm to produce a sob story to Wes, which he completely buys on all levels. Hmm, looks like Keating isn’t the only one having an affair, as her hubby seems to have eyes for Bonnie (Liza Well).
Wes finds himself slowly melding into the legal arena making friends with his neighbor Rebecca (Katie Findlay), who wasn’t his biggest fan upon their first meeting. Keating unleashed holy hail when it became apparent her witness was holding some lies. The audience soon learns that Keating is sleeping with Detective Nate Leahy (Billy Brown) who she calls as a witness in her case. For a first episode, it seems the twists just keep on coming. Keating won her case, but it is apparent that Laurel knows something that she has yet to share with her teacher.
When our heroine announced that Mr. Walsh won the immunity trophy, and then named the students who would be joining her firm which included Asher, Laurel, Wes and Michaela; can’t say I’m surprised by the choices, but Wes questioned rather the offer was authentic or not. We later discovered that the body of Lila Stangard has been found. The question for the audience is the number of suspects who may be responsible: Keating’s husband, Rebecca or Keating herself. Looks like she suspects that her hubby could be the guilty party. The final moments of the episode reveal the students destroying the body, of professor Keating’s husband! Wow, didn’t see that one coming!
So the bigger question is why would the students murder Keating’s husband? Were they trying to protect her or did she get them to do something that she wanted them to do? I love a great mystery, and Rhimes has weaved a drama, with captivating characters, a unique premise and a narrative that has set the stage for a must-see each episode. Looks like this new series has found a spot in my TV lineup! “How to Get Away With Murder” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.