Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the second half of How to Get Away With Murder’s second season is back to stop our hearts — and occasionally make them race. Only instead of saying “What Happened to You, Annalise?,” as the episode’s titles suggests, you’ll be asking “What’s Up with You, Annalise?”
Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal) and the HTGAWM team are back at it, doing what they do best by continuing to screw with the minds of viewers. If you need any convincing that this is one of the craziest shows on television right now, just try summing the show up to someone who hasn’t been watching it from day one. We’ll give it a go: five law students are selected, seemingly at random, to intern for their tough-as-nails professor, Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), and they get into some serious law-breaking trouble which includes: covering up murders; lying to law enforcement; framing innocent people for murder; and, oh, of course, committing murders themselves.
Throw in some of Keating’s and her legal team’s skeletons, not to mention her extremely awkward mothering-sensual relationship with Wes (Alfred Enoch), and you have the makings of a very entertaining and mildly confusing addition to the affectionately titled ‘Shondaland’ universe.
Cue the much-needed flashback.
The first half of season two ramped up the lies and the murders, beginning with Keating taking on the case of two adults accused of killing their parents. What follows is yet another serious of morally questionable actions that leave Keating framing the one daughter, having her “Keating Five” shoot her to make it look like her client tried to kill her. Only, they’re tired of hurting people, so what is an underpaid professor to do but egg them on? She does this by telling Wes, who’s she’s totally had a soft spot for, that she did in fact know that Rebecca (Katie Findlay), his poor soul of a girlfriend who didn’t even make it through season one, was dead, and implied she had something to do with it.
“What Happened to You, Annalise?” immediately takes us back to the moment when Wes shot Annalise in the side instead of the less life threatening leg, because, you know, he didn’t take too kindly to her having lied to him for months. But then the table is shifted, and we skip two weeks to witness her recovery, aided by a surprisingly doting Bonnie (Liza Weil).
But painkillers spell trouble for the woman who’s mentally hanging on by a thread, and pretty soon she’s hallucinating an immigrant women showing up to her house with a newborn wrapped in a blanket, only to leave the baby and run. Bonnie showing up to help only to hold and then drop an empty blanket let’s us know this entire season is going to be a mind-bender. Because it’s not just the result of one too many Vicodin that let’s us into Keating’s fractured psyche. Right after being shot, the one word she could utter to Laurel (Karla Souza) and Wes, the only Keating Five present for the shooting, was “Christophe.” And then, even without all of the pieces, the picture begins to reveal exactly what is behind all of the weirdness between her and the student she’s been protecting; after all, she was pretty unruffled when he murdered her husband.
As if Shonda Rhimes knows our prayers, our needs are met with a simple and yet highly confusing flashback to a time when a pregnant Annalise meets who we believe to be a younger Wes and his mother. Talk about a baby-bombshell.
HTGAWM likes to spin a lot of threads at once — Asher convincing himself that his dad didn’t commit suicide while feeling guilty for killing Emily Sinclair (Sarah Burns) is just one at the moment. But after an arguably too complex start to the second season, the show is definitely back on its feet with a surprisingly poignant and purposeful second half.
How To Get Away with Murder airs Thursday nights at 10/9 c on ABC.
Follow Sara Snoddy on Twitter at @Sara_Snoddy.
To contact Lifestyles editor Tanner Dedmon email firstname.lastname@example.org.