[Warning: This article features spoilers for “How to Get Away with Murder”]
Surprisingly enough, “How to Get Away with Murder” is back for a fifth season. Executive producer Shonda Rhimes, like “Glee” and “American Horror Story” mastermind Ryan Murphy, is making the move to Netflix. As “Grey’s Anatomy,” the original Shondaland production, gears up for what could be its final season, one has to wonder how long Rhimes and creator Peter Nowalk plan to keep “Murder” going. How many more grave, fateful, plot-driving deaths can the show endure before audiences stop feeling invested? It seems like this season’s murder might mark the final genuinely intriguing murder.
As in each season prior, the first episode of season five gives us a glimpse into the final moment before the death of a major character on which the rest of the season’s plotline hinges on recounting. Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) exhibits impeccable command of the screen in every scene she is in. However, the lackluster performances and poorly constructed development of the show’s other characters creates increasingly bland scenes throughout the episode as the story shifts its focus to the relationships and friendships of the rest of the cast. This episode heavily relies on the assumption that its viewers are interested in the personal relationships of the other characters on the show. This makes for a rather dull episode, as the state of the relationships of these characters was already pretty well established at the end of season four. It was extremely frustrating that this episode didn’t pursue Simon Drake’s storyline in further detail as an undocumented, queer person of color before his exit from the show. The decision to simply deport him and provide absolutely no follow-up in this premiere episode was, quite frankly, frustrating, lazy and negligent.
The flourishing and unique relationship between Nate Lahey (Billy Brown) and Bonnie Winterbottom (Liza Well) added great substance to the episode. Decidedly antagonistic toward each other in prior seasons, it appears that these two have a kinship over a shared secret that will be unpacked throughout this season. There is a deep trough of unresolved tension and secrets between Annalise and Bonnie that appears to have been pushed under the rug as it seems that Annalise and Bonnie now have an uncharacteristically chummy relationship. My only hunch is that digging up and dealing with these secrets will be a main storyline for coming episodes. The showrunners have decided to finally pursue Bonnie’s life story and more fully develop her character. I imagine that Bonnie’s life story will make for great subplots.
One of the most intriguing cliffhangers of season four’s finale was the introduction of a new character, Gabriel Maddox (Rome Flynn), who Frank Delfino (Charlie Weber) referred to as someone’s son. Throughout episode one it is unclear whose son he is, although we are meant to assume he’s Annalise’s child. Gabriel Maddox enrolls in one of Annalise’s classes and even makes it known that he transferred law schools to be taught by her. However, toward the end of the season premiere we get a hint that Frank has a vendetta against this unassuming young student, and that he might actually be the son of Bonnie.
Like many season premieres, this episode remained very slow until the final few scenes. The final moments of this episode were intriguing enough that I will certainly continue watching. But if this episode made one thing clear, it is that after this season, it might be time to wrap up this series.