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‘How To Get Away With Murder’: Plots Within Plots

Image courtesy of Mitch Haaseth/ABC
Image courtesy of Mitch Haaseth/ABC

There’s nothing like the promise of a new series come fall and How To Get Away With Murder does not disappoint. The show stars Viola Davis who plays Annalise Keating, a professor and practicing lawyer who uses her own cases as the subject matter in her classroom. She chooses a few lucky students to be interns and they get the real life work experience coveted by their peers.

Each episode, Annalise takes on a new case and her students help build the defense. At the same time we learn more about their very complicated lives. Annalise and her psychology professor husband Tom (Tom Verica) with their rocky marriage, Connor (Jack Falahee) preying on dorky IT guys to get them to hack into protected systems to get information for him, Michaela (Aja Naomi King) and her fiancé who once had a thing with Connor in high school, Laurel (Karla Souza) and Frank’s (Charlie Weber) sexual tension, and lastly Wes (Alfred Enoch) who is trying to save his neighbor Rebecca (Katie Findlay) from taking the fall for the murder of a fellow student.

What makes the show so compelling is that it constantly keeps you guessing. The main plot of each episode is actually a flashback and in the present, Wes, Laurel, Connor, and Michaela are trying to cover up their own murder. We get little bits of information that reveal how complicated the plot is from the victim’s identity, the scene of the crime, their alibi, and possible motives. We don’t know who actually did the killing and for what reason. The show also makes you question whether or not you can trust the characters after seeing their personalities in the flashbacks and then their actions in the present. The jury is still out on Annalise herself, is she is a hero or anti-hero?

Still, each case she takes always turns out unexpectedly and catches you off guard. First there was the woman accused of murdering her lover and it turned out that she was colluding with the man’s wife. Next was the eccentric man who allegedly stabbed his second wife to death but in fact had killed his first wife and his daughter was trying to frame him in revenge. This week, Annalise takes on a soccer mom facing serious jail time because she had been a member of an anarchist group that set off a pipe bomb that killed a man. The soccer mom ends up disappearing with the head of the anarchist group after he testifies against her to get an early release from prison. She abandons her kids and husband to become a fugitive with her old sweetheart.

The other flashback subplot is the murder of student Lila Stangard. Annalise is asked by the school to represent her boyfriend athlete Griffin O’Reilly. She is hesitant because she suspects that her husband Tom may have something to do with it after previously snooping on his phone and seeing emails between him and Lila and then all of it being trashed once she has a second chance to investigate. She sends her paramour cop to check out his alibi and while we learn Tom was not where he was supposed to be. However the detective lies to Annalise to ease her mind and to end their affair. Meanwhile, Wes pretends to be lawyer to see Rebecca in prison, who is being held as a suspect for Lila’s murder. As her neighbor, he knows something isn’t right because he’s seen Griffin and her fighting violently. Plus she had hidden a phone in his bathroom (it turns out to be Lila’s). Wes convinces Annalise to represent Rebecca instead of Griffin but just when they are about to talk to her in prison, a detective comes out and says that Rebecca had confessed to the crime on tape.

The show does a great job in keeping audiences hooked on the plots and subplots as well as providing dimensional characters with complicated backgrounds, hidden agendas, and questionable motivations. In fact it kinda feels like LOST, legal drama style. This is a definite must watch amongst the multitude of new shows this season, it’s going to be a wild ride.

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About Nicole C

Nicole is the Features Editor for The Workprint. She may or may not be addicted to coffee, audiobooks, and sci-fi.

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