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Friday, 20 November 2015

How To Get Away With Murder S2 (First Half)

How To Get Away With Murder
Series 2 (First Half)

It always feels a bit weird describing the first section of a How To Get Away With Murder series as the 'first half', because despite the whole split series idea being designed so that series end up in two roughly equal parts, it's really more like the first two thirds in How To Get Away With Murder's case.

Picking up almost immediately after the end of the first series, Annalise is faced with several brand new problems: Her assistant, Bonnie, has been revealed as Rebecca's murder, forcing Annalise to cover the crime up - something made all the more difficult by Wes, Nate, and volatile foster brother of Rebecca Levi, who are attempting to find out what happened to her. Complicating matters further is the team's new case: Defending two wealthy siblings accused of murdering their parents. Meanwhile, Asher is approached by Sinclair, who wants to use him as a mole.

If I'm being honest, I don't really know what to say about this series. In many respects, it's more of the same as the first series, and the writers have only really built on that concept by introducing a more tangled (and occasionally confusing) plot - which works well enough, but towards the close of these nine episodes, I was starting to feel a little bored of it.

Michaela gets no less than two romance subplots this series, one with this guy,
who might be a murderer.

There are some things that I liked: The acting is still very good. The pacing is on point. The writers quickly work around the rather unpleasant and actually quite distasteful 'Oliver has HIV' plotline, in a way that doesn't feel rushed (although I do think they miscalculated with that plotline, and I think they realised that) but does get it over and done with quickly. Possibly that shouldn't be something I'm praising, since it diminishes the importance of something which has a vast, terrible, and lifelong impact on people in real life, but if I'm being honest, I was just glad that that whole plot was gone. 

Connor and Oliver remain a joy to watch, and having Michaela be their new BFF was an odd move (because while she and Connor got along better than the others, and she clearly liked Oliver, she wasn't really friends with either of them in the first series) but did also give us some of the funnest, warmest moments in a series which was often sorely lacking them.

In a way, those three, along with Asher, have grown to eclipse the other cast members. While Wes was indisputably the main character of the first series, and the show does its very best to push a 'Wes and Annalise have a connection' vibe in this series, his role is clearly a reduced one, and he no longer feels like a viewpoint character, or even a character of particular, striking importance. Laurel suffers from this even worse, becoming very nearly a supporting character. 

Michaela's other love interest, who weirdly looks ten years older than he is
in this shot.

It's odd to have to say that, because I'm not sure anybody's screentime has actually been reduced, it's just that their relative involvements in the plot have shifted. While Wes was the one with the personal stake in the Rebecca plotline, now Michaela has a personal stake in it; while Connor and Oliver's relationship was a subplot meant to show how the stress and terror in Connor's life was negatively affecting him, it's now an important part of the Hapstall plot.

Which is not even getting started on Asher, who has his own massive plotline that actually feels - unnecessary, to be honest. Asher's whole deal was that he was an innocent, good person who wasn't aware of what the rest of the Keating Five were doing, which allowed him to function as both comic relief and a humanising influence on the rest of the cast. Maybe if his plotline was especially interesting, I'd feel better about it, but more than anything, I was just frustrated by it: It consisted mostly of Asher flip-flopping between helping Sinclair and not helping her, while loudly insisting that he was blameless for everything, and that was just annoying more than anything.

Famke Janssen plays this role identically to how she plays Jean Grey.

Actually, 'frustrating' could be used to describe a lot of this series so far: Almost all of the plotlines involving Nate, most of the stuff with Famke Janssen (I honestly can't figure out if Janssen is a good or a bad actor), pretty much anything involving Laurel and Frank (I still do not like Frank one bit). 

I'll see what the latter half (/about a third) of the series I like, but I wonder if perhaps that might end up being when I stop watching. Because while I enjoy How To Get Away With Murder, it does increasingly feel like it's just circling the same basic plotlines in increasingly convoluted way - and if I'm thinking that now, how bad will it be when series three rolls around?

Nice soundtrack, though. No complaints about the soundtrack.

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