‘Anna Mae’ must be the most chill finale we have gotten How to Get Away with Murder, but it still managed to glue us to the screen by taking a more emotional, character-driven approach to all the plot points we have seen so far.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers
They say that going somewhere else won’t really change the way you feel, you have to make that change from the inside. While going back to Memphis to her mother was a natural choice for Annalise, the truth is, reality is pretty different. We already knew Ophelia from last season, but this time we got introduced to Annalise’s father, who kept running away and abandoning Ophelia, and her sister, Celestine. While being there, Annalise realizes that she doesn’t really fit in with her family either and that, even at home, she can still be criticized and blamed for things she’s not responsible for. Her father leaving her mother was not excusable, but he did have a point in saying that he was just “running away” from his problems and that, coming back home was not so different to what Annalise had just done, something also reinforced when Celestine blamed her for leaving her alone in taking care of their mother. The truth is Anna Mae has just as many problems as Annalise.
Her trip wasn’t futile, though. As a mother, Ophelia seems to always have the role of bringing peace to Annalise when her problems have become too much. This time, the help came in the shape of getting some closure for her lost baby as Ophelia helped her prepare a funeral for her baby, who was named Sam. We don’t know what Annalise wrote in that piece of paper, but we don’t need to – it was supposed to be a private moment between a mother and her child and it worked wonders, which is to expect with any scene involving Viola Davis and Cicely Tyson.
Even though the episode revolved around Annalise/Anna Mae, Frank was the one who carried most of the plot throughout the episode. Frank has been one of the most enigmatic characters of the series since the beginning. He always appeared to be quiet, and the only moments in which he seemed to show emotions were when he was with Laurel (and yet, their relationship was more based on sex than on romance). The thing is, we have always known the reasons behind the characters committing murder, but Frank was the only one for whom we hadn’t had any explanation. We found out he killed Lila at the end of Season 1… and that was it. All this secrecy helped build an aura of “danger” and “unpredictability” to the character.
It turns out that the car accident wasn’t really an accident – it was Frank, who had been tricked by the people from the case. Sam kept the secret to protect Annalise (although it kind of had the opposite effect) so Frank owned him, which is why he killed Lila. He will still have a big role to play in Season 3, though. After having shown Caleb having killed himself in one of the bloodiest scenes in the series, the show had some fun in making us believe that Frank had decided to go the same route. Fortunately, it only appears that he run away. Whether that has something to do with Mahoney getting shot or not, we’ll have to wait and see.
For all the importance the Hapstall case has carried during all the season, it was resolved fairly quickly here. I’m not going to complain – this case never really interested me, it was already very important in the mid-season finale, and I’d rather have them dedicate the season finale to the main characters, which they did. At least it served to see Annalise back in full form presenting all the evidence that the real killer was Caleb. Apparently, Catherine just couldn’t tell them because she was so in love with him and it took a lot of effort from Phillip to convince her that it was the right thing to do.
In other news… Asher and Michaela are still going at it for no reason, while Oliver has deleted Connor’s Standford acceptance email. Let’s be honest, Oliver has never been exempt from crime, since he’s been using his hacking skills to help Connor and the gang since the beginning, but I’m afraid we are starting to see some signs of him getting dragged into Annalise’s world, which is the thing that Connor fears the most.
In several interviews, Peter Nowalk stated that this season would be more about emotion than about action. The truth is, ‘Anna Mae’ was, without a doubt, the slowest-paced finale this series has done. This doesn’t mean it was a bad one by any means. ‘Anna Mae’s goal was not to shock its viewers, but to make them sympathize with its characters by making viewers understand their motives. In fact, this whole second half of the season has been about introducing character backstories and showing the impact that people can have on each other, something that was clearly showcased with Annalise’s downfall. As any other season finale, the episode also managed to introduce some questions for the third season, many of them having to do with Wes, Laurel, Frank and, to a lesser extent, Oliver, Michaela and Asher.
See you in Season 3!