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How To Get Away With Murder - Midseason Premiere Review: "Unbelievable Intensity"

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I was less than impressed with the way How To Get Away With Murder brought the first half of this season to a close last year, and I confess to not having given the series much - if any - thought at all during the winter break. However last night's midseason premiere is one of How To Get Away With Murder's greatest episode to date, and had unbelievable intensity throughout. "He’s Dead" was written by Abby Ajayi and directed by Jet Wilkinson

This episode flew around the various locations it featured. The writing and directing were as good as they could possibly be. The hour as a whole was very sharp, tight, and beautifully woven together.

When what went down?

In the Caplan & Gold offices, we saw the extended aftermath of Simon's accidental shooting. Michaela and Oliver led proceedings here, as Asher had already been carted away to the cells. The three of them stuck to their guns when questioned by the police, telling them Simon committed suicide, and claiming it was stress induced because of his immigration status and the fact that he was caught doing things he shouldn't have been in the office, when, of course, in actual fact, Simon shot himself accidentally, and the group were actually the ones snooping in the Antares server room.

At the hospital, Annalise followed Laurel and the baby and waited anxiously for information about their wellbeing. She was joined by Frank, with Connor also finding his way there. Laurel's father came out of nowhere to take custody of the baby, claiming information on falsified medical records gave him the right to take custody of the baby despite Annalise doing everything she could to put a stop to the hospital transfer.

Finally, the least featured scene was at the elevator where Laurel gave birth. Aside from a visit from Bonnie, the elevator was surplus to requirements, so nothing much happened here.

The hospital stuff was very well done. The acting performances by Charlie Weber, Karla Souza, and Viola Davis were among their best in the series. A fault I found with the plot here was how Laurel's father made it to the hospital so rapidly, even if he would have been notified by the hospital in due course thanks to the prearranged custody ruling. That aside, Annalise pulled out all the stops on the Department of Human Services staff, making all sorts of threats against them to get visitation rights and access to Laurel's medical records.

I was really pleased with what I saw from Isaac Roa. Annalise called him in to provide a second opinion on Laurel's medical records, but even when Annalise threatened blackmail, he stuck to his guns and didn't let his emotions or Annalise's bullying tactics prevent him from being largely objective and professional. It was really clever use of the character. This doesn't excuse the cringeworthy happenings in the midseason finale, but the character's expiry date has been nudged ahead of where it used to be.

I have largely similar thoughts about Bonnie as well. We saw her visits to the crime scenes replayed. She met with everyone at the hospital, returning the bag Laurel had in the elevator - minus the hard drive, however. She also released Oliver from the Caplan & Gold crime scene, and even disclosed her former relationship with Asher, while stating that charging Asher based on circumstantial evidence would be thrown out. Again, she provided assistance to Annalise and her students, but remained largely objective and professional, and avoided coming back to the team just because they were in crisis once more.

He's dead.

Frank played a much more conventional part in this episode - and accomplished a great deal. In addition to being at the hospital with Laurel, he located and kidnapped Dominic, interrogating him on the location of the hard drive, and ruthlessly killing him to Laurel's horror when she found out. I'm sure I'm not the only one surprised by his sudden departure, but the guy was bad news and I'm not going to miss him.

I thought the creative team did a really good job using the traumatic experience Laurel and Annalise went through as a bonding opportunity. Laurel hasn't hidden her hatred for Annalise in recent times, but their moment in the hospital together was powerful. Bear in mind that Laurel was the mastermind of the grand plan which brought about the mess that everyone is in - and Annalise wasn't party to it, but hopefully this connection will sweeten some of the bitterness Laurel has for Annalise, and enable a more productive working relationship as they go after Laurel's father.

This episode introduced three elements which will have the most bearing on what happens in the remainder of the season. The first is the location of the hard drive Laurel had before she got into trouble in the elevator. We know Dominic didn't have it on him, nor divulge its whereabouts to Frank before he was killed. We know Bonnie couldn't locate it in evidence at the station, so someone has uplifted it before she got to the scene, and likely before Laurel made it to the hospital. From a storytelling point of view, to provide a more spectacular conclusion, and for Laurel to have closure, she will have to destroy her father's business, and the hard drive might not be pivotal to that, but the hard drive does incriminate her and her fellow students, so it needs to be found to be used or destroyed.

The second important element is whether Simon survives his gunshot to the head. I was amazed to see him on life support in the hospital, and that's a major unexpected twist. Annalise and her students will be hoping he passes so he can't incriminate them, but it's likely he will be alive in his current or better state long enough to cause trouble and throw a spanner in the works. I was surprised to see Oliver dig his heels in and effectively order his friends not to touch Simon, which is an interesting change in tack from him.

The third element I see as being important is what conclusions the police come to surrounding Simon. Asher touching the gun will cause a few issues that make it much harder to explain, and I would have thought we would have seen some security camera footage if there was any. If the police suspect foul play, then Simon surviving and telling the truth would be a beneficial outcome.

You're not as good a liar as you think.

Other minor points worth mentioning include Tegan talking to Michaela. That went down rather differently to how I expected. Furthermore, she isn't aware of any Antares breach. Also, I can't help but think Laurel's father may be correct about a former drug habit or mental instability.

However, last but not least is Wes's voicemail on Dominic's phone. This will surely garner the most speculation over the next week or so at least. Wes used his real name, and the contact in his phone read 'In Case Of Emergency'. How Wes knows Dominic remains to be seen, but what is known for sure is that Dominic was the one who killed Wes, and that fact can't be changed. Personally, I wouldn't be at all opposed to welcome Wes and Alfred Enoch back into the series, even if it was in flashbacks.

There's plenty more that I could discuss in this review, but I would be here all day writing it. In all, the pace and intensity this episode unfolded at was unbelievable. The cast performances were superb. The technical elements and production quality were top notch, and the episode as a whole has breathed some badly needed life back into the season, which is great to see.

It's great to have How To Get Away With Murder back on our screens with such a good midseason premiere. I'd love to hear your own thoughts and theories on this episode so make sure you scoot down to the comments below and make yourself heard. See you all back here next week!

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