The Dude Recaps: "How To Get Away With Murder", Season 1, Episode 2

You guys! I think I figured out who the heck each of the characters are now. Last week’s breakneck pace and the introduction of three murders at three different points in time, jumping between each of their investigations (cover ups) made it a little tricky to keep track of who’s who and who’s who to whom. But let me lay this out…
Lila Stangard: Student of Sam Keating. Murdered and left in a water tank.
Sam Keating: Professor Keating’s husband. Whom she suspects was having an affair with Lila Stangard and could be the killer. He was revealed as the body that her students are disposing of in the pilot…and again in this episode.
Rebecca Stuart: Wes’ neighbor. She gets arrested as a suspect in Lila Stangard’s murder. But we learn she’ll become Wes’ lover and that she’s the person he’s talking to on the phone while getting supplies to bury Sam’s body.
Okay, got all that? Please point out all that I missed in the comments below. I want more pieces to puzzle together! This week’s episode felt like it was trying to catch the audience up plot-wise. It’s a pretty standard tactic for a second episode, you want to hook in any new viewers that didn’t watch the pilot but you also don’t want repeat viewers to feel like they’re watching another pilot. A tricky balancing act that network shows seem cursed to attempt but this show did an admirable job. Mostly.
While the murder of Lila Stangard moved forward, the death of Sam Keating felt like a repeat. Because it basically was, as we relived major beats from last week’s episode and then just expanded on Wes’ involvement of them. It’s a bit of a cheat but, no episode of TV is perfect.
There was also a recurring theme in the storytelling about taking a second look at assumptions you make about people and their actions. In the opening teaching scene, Professor Keating walked in front of each of our ensemble cast and pointed out their archetypes (probably trying to make the episode as accessible for viewers that didn’t bother to watch the pilot). Then she makes the statement that our assumptions of who these characters really are, are in fact wrong. Which is a writer’s way of saying, “I’m going to twist everything up on you! Tehehehe” (Yes, writers will “tehehehe”. It’s a thing we do when we’re excited about f*cking with our audience. ‘Cause we’re evil…in our work, not in real life, swears.)
And sure enough, they each had a chance to prove they were more than their archetypes. Laurel wasn’t just there for her looks but got a break on the case of the week, Connor got to show he’s not just using a guy for his tech savvy, McKayla showed she’s not got her sh*t as together as she pretends to, and then there’s Wes…
Wes seems to have been designated as our lens character. Nicknamed, “The Puppy” in the 3 months prior storyline we get to see the journey he’ll take from “Puppy” to protector to Team Cover Up leader.
Another major lesson stressed this week was the importance of prep work. We got to see prepping in many varieties of actions. Prepping a witness (case of the week). Gathering intel about an affair (Professor Keating toward her presently dead husband). Picking up supplies to dispose of a body (Wes retrieving the murder weapon and stopping at the store). It’s nice to see the layered ways in which these lessons of the week may play themselves out across multiple characters and multiple plots.
Davis meanwhile remains the standout performance and character on the show. She’s playing a woman who proudly proclaims at the top of the episode that she doesn’t care if her clients are innocent or guilt. All she cares about is winning. To her students, associates, judges, and juries, she appears to know how to win at all times. Behind closed doors we get to see the depths of her self-doubt and insecurity. My favorite exchange of the episode was between her and her husband (shortly after accusing him of having an affair with the dead girl):
Keating: “I’m gonna lose.”
Husband: “You say that every time.”
Granted, being that consoling after being accused of having an affair WITH A DEAD STUDENT was a bit of a logic stretch, but still a fantastic glimpse into the kind of marriage they have.
The show is prepping for the payoff. Hopefully, now that we’ve made sure everyone who’s going to watch the show is watching, the murder of Sam Keating can move further along next episode. The repeat thing was a bit frustrating since that’s the juiciest puzzle to solve (IMHO). Still, this week’s second episode was taking a second look at assumptions we made about the characters and the many (MANY) plots introduced to us last week. Here’s hoping the show can keep its storytelling slickness and gets the momentum moving next week.
HONORABLE MENTIONS:
-Things you shouldn’t say if you don’t want to be considered a suspect for murder: “All that time in the water tank probably destroyed all of the DNA evidence.”
-Is anyone else interested in checking Amazon to see if a “Murder Book” actually exists?
SEX SCENES THIS WEEK: 1 straight, 1 gay. Much appreciated, Shonda.
-While I didn’t mention it much in the bulk of the recap, I do want to take a moment to give a shoutout to ma’ boy, Steven Weber. Who looked like he was having the GREATEST TIME EVER playing the accused murderer for this episode’s case of the week. It’s tough to play that kind of eccentric character without being a parody and he was more successful than not. Any episode of TV that gives me some Steven Weber is a win in my DVR.
-Pretty sure universities have rules about letting students be stunt doubles for murder reenactments…especially those performed by the accused murderer!

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