A week after making history by becoming the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama, Viola Davis returned to the small screen as Annalise Keating for the second season of “How to Get Away with Murder.”
The first season of HTGAWM was a complex web of lies, affairs and murders, and the center of every episode was focused on Keating, a law professor who takes no shit in the classroom or in the courtroom. Davis portrayed Keating in a nuanced manner, showed us the real, vulnerable human behind the hard exterior Keating puts on for the world and made her slow deterioration during the course of the season believable.
When the first season ended in February, most of the problems were wrapped up. Of course, all of these wrap up as soon as another mystery is dropped — after Rebecca threatened to go to the cops with all the information she had against Keating and her students, she was tied up in Keating’s basement and, true to the show’s name, was found dead at the end of the season finale.
The premiere episode starts off with all the pace of the first episode, as it picks up 10 days after Rebecca went “missing.” Wes is insubordinate in class, the Keating Five seems lackluster in its job, not wanting much of a challenge. It could be early-onset senioritis, or could be the students’ slow unraveling caused by the pressure to keep Sam’s death a secret and avoid going to prison for murder.
Frank and Keating are the only ones who know Rebecca is dead. They now have to find out who in the house killed her without tipping off anyone else.
Two-thirds of the way through the episode, you learn who killed Rebecca, but the shock is replaced when more mysteries are revealed. Each of the Keating Five has its own subplot in addition to the overarching themes. No part of the episode feels like filler scenes — every one is crafted to bring you closer and closer to the new mystery of the season.
As with any good episode of television, it ends with a dance party, a murder and a familiar character’s fate left in question. Unlike the intermittent flashbacks throughout the episodes in season one, the premiere had a few flashbacks, but it isn’t until the end when we jump forward two months that we see what the central conflict of the season will be.
If the premiere tells us anything, it is this season is destined to be as twisted and complex as the previous one, but I trust Davis to guide me through it.