How To Get Away With Murder

ABC-TV premiered its new mystery series called How To Get Away With Murder tonight. And right off the bat, I can say that this law professor, Annalise Keating, played by an electric Viola Davis will not remind you Professor Kingsfield of The Paper Chase.

Here’s the skinny – Keating is a law professor at Middleton College in Philadelphia. Her course is called Criminal Law 100, and you’d better hit the class at full speed. Keating had sent out an assignment via email to all the incoming students. Yes, she will be asking students for responses to the assignment 3 minutes into the course.

As Keating says, I will not be teaching you how to study the law or theorize about it, but rather how to practice it, in a court room, like a real lawyer.

Keating is going to pick four, sorry make that five, of her best students to work at her firm. Yes, she’s a criminal defense attorney when she’s not doing the professorial thing.

Discredit the witness, introduce a new suspect, and bury the evidence - this at the heart of Criminal Law 100 - at least from Keating's perspective

Discredit the witness, introduce a new suspect, and bury the evidence – this at the heart of Criminal Law 100 – at least from Keating’s perspective

She will tell her students that they should get used to telling her the truth, because in her line of work, she deals with professional liars on a daily basis.

But before we get to that, the show actually opens with some people, who may have murdered someone, or at least contributed to his or her death, debating on whether to attempt to get rid of the body, or walk away from it, period. They’re unsure of the right course of action, and after a heated discussion, they agree to let a coin flip will decide their game plan.

We don’t know them yet, but guess who Keating is going to select, after a fierce competition, as her best and brightest?

The Big Ten

The Big Ten

That’s about as far as I can go in describing or giving you an outline of the plot. But what I can do is introduce you to the show’s main cast of ten people:

Annalise Keating played by Viola Davis

Annalise Keating played by Viola Davis

Annalise Keating – College Law Professor and a leading Defense Counsel in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Viola Davis is the lead, and she’s as good as you might expect. And the best thing about her is that she is so unpredictable, which is the hallmark of the show.

Nate Leahy (blue shirt – silver-grey tie above) played by Billy Brown – a Philadelphia detective, who is on excellent terms with Keating. In fact, from what we see in the first episode – their relationship is intimate.

The students:

Wes Gibbons ( tall guy 3rd in from the left) played by Alfred Enoch – He came to class unprepared for the assignment as he didn’t get the email. He says. But, while an outsider, he gets to know more about Keating than he expected. And it is scary.

Connor Walsh (white shirt and tieless) played by Jack Falahee – he’s smart, he’s tough, and when he needs to, he’ll do anything. When asked how he got his hands on a certain email he responds with, I don’t kiss and tell.

Michaela Pratt (black and white striped jersey) played by Aja Naomi King – overachiever, fearless, driven, ambitious – she’s got it all. as well as an engagement ring. She’s ready and willing to go for the gold.

Asher Millstone (striped rep tie) played by Matt McGorry – he’s the rich kid. He’s preppy, smart, thinks he’s entitled, and he knows what he’s doing. But has he some secrets that Keating is going to use.

Laurel Castillo (arms crossed in front of her) played by Karla Souza. She’s the quiet one, the one who will be underestimated. She’s an idealist, and probably has some secrets up her sleeves.

Rebecca Sutter (tee-shirt) played by Katie Findlay. She’s not a student. She’s a bartender at the bar off campus. She also lives across the hall from Wes Gibbons.. They’ve set her up to come off as edgy and aloof – but likely she’s none of the above.

Then there’s Keating’s staff –

Frank Delfino (dark beard all the way on the right) played by Charlie Webber. He’s the chief of staff and has been known to sleep with the students. He’s also fiercely loyal to Keating. But in this the opening episode, Laurel Castillo will call him a misogynistic ass.

Bonnie Winterbottom (the only blonde in sight) played by Liza Weil. She’s Keating’s associate and likely does the brief preparations as well as keeping the office running. She didn’t do much in the first episode to gather any notice, but I am sure that will change.

Okay now that you/ve met everyone – I can tell you that a female student has gone missing. And she may or may not be that body I discussed above. I think this will be the case that we will see, along with the solution, and a trial.

At least for the first episode, there was a rather unusual series of time shifts – jumping back and forth from the introduction of the class and the students, and a probable murder 3 months later. It’s not so much that it was confusing – but it was a tad annoying.

But setting that aside, I think the way this show will work is that the layers of everyone we’ve met this week will be peeled back, layer by layer. Quite likely our first impressions of the characters will be altered a little at a time. In fact, the second episode which airs on October 2nd, will ask a key question – Are you really who you say you are?

The implication being that we don’t really have any idea about these people. As Keating says – look around the class – these are people you will have study groups with, sleep with, or even marry. But do we really know anything about them now?

Keating is going to tell us that we do not know. Which means we will have to watch the series to find out more. Thursday nights 10:00 PM on ABC-TV. By the way, the show Exec Producer  is Shonda Rhimes. She brings a strong resume as she was exec producer on both Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.

Here’s a brief clip called which ABC-TV calls A First Look –

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5 thoughts on “How To Get Away With Murder

  1. Despite a nonsensical opening sequence in which fate of four key cast members supposedly hinges on a coin toss, the premiere of HTGAWM was slick and entertaining.

    Viola Davis plays a smartly-written character – a criminal defense attorney who may also be a killer. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast are unsufferable law school fops who slavishly compete for Davis’ approval, except for Katie Findlay who gives a strong performance as the X-factor who lives across the hall.

    This show looks like it’s going to stick around until the kids pass or fail and retake their bar exams. For now, I’m happy to watch Davis twist the law while Rhimes twists the storyline in clever ways. I ‘m just worried I’m going to be required to watch that coin flip each and every week in the “previously on How To Get away With Murder” catch up sequence. If that happens, I’ll probably cut this class.

    • Nicely written FD.

      It was slick and unusual at times. Like when Keating arrived at the lecture hall. How many times has anyone seen, as the first shot of the lead character, we see his or her back as the camera follows as she or he makes his or her way into the setting. We may see people getting out of a car, or from the shoes up in a slow tracking – but I don’t recall an entrance like this one, to introduce the main character.

      I wonder what those scratches on the wall above Wes Gibbons’ bed mean?
      I also wonder if the killer will turn out to be Keating?

      Good point about the possibility of one of the students either dropping out or flunking out.

    • You mean is it the same Alfred Enoch who is playing Wes Gibbons on HTGAWM?

      Yes, it the very same actor. We all grow up don’t we? Thanks foor asking. I hadn’t made the connection
      but IMDB was where I looked to check.

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