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How To Get Away With Murder - Season 5 Finale Review + POLL: "The Wrong Direction"


If you saw my advance preview on this How To Get Away With Murder fifth season finale, you'll already be aware that I found this finale rather unsatisfying. The Castillo's are back with vengeance, the Lahey Sr. and Miller murders remain somewhat unresolved, and to top it off, one of this season's three new series regular characters meets an untimely end. There's much more to dissect so let's get into it. A warning - this review may be a bit all over the place.

"Please Say No One Else Is Dead" was written by Joe Fazzio, and directed by Stephen Cragg. Interestingly, this is the first season premiere or finale not written by creator Peter Nowalk.

Let's start with some good news. I thought the flashbacks in this episode were quite well done. They were relevant and concise most of the time, however they did ask more than I was prepared for as a viewer at times. Flashbacks were used early on to introduce us to Xavier Castillo, the son of the infamous Jorge Castillo, and sister of Laurel. We watched as Nate Lahey Sr firmly turned down Xavier's offer to be his lawyer. Later we saw Miller crumple under the pressure of the Castillos which led him to order the transfer of Lahey Sr at a time which was convenient to the Castillos and led to his death.



Annoyingly, after the last few weeks of Miller being painted as the bad guy, this finale turns things on its head. Miller bowed to the wishes of the Castillos, but knew full well what he was doing was wrong and he tried hard to make the transfer more inconvenient for the Castillos. The damage was already done though, and Lahey Sr died anyway. This finale also leaves Miller's death unsolved, with blame presumably being pointed at the Castillos for now, and Lahey Sr still has no definitive murderer either which is especially disappointing given how long that case has been dragging on for, and also given the fact that it wasn't a primary subplot.

Adding to this frustration is that only Frank and Annalise know that Miller is essentially innocent of Lahey Sr's death, though he is now the perfect scapegoat given he was corrupted. They want to keep this a secret primarily to protect Bonnie, which I guess is understandable, but as with any 'secret' in this series, everyone finds out eventually.

The Governor returned once more in this finale, but I don't really feel we got far with this either. She was supposed to be the ultimate antagonist, but those ambitions wilted quite significantly once she confirmed on national television that she was pointing the blame for her wrongdoings at Emmett. The logical conclusion is that the Governor and the Castillos are working together in some capacity, with the Castillos doing the dirty work such as fabricating phone records and the Governor being the public mouthpiece for their conspiracy.



Warding off the subsequent FBI investigation into Emmett was one of the primary roles for Annalise and Tegan. Tegan blew her cover as an FBI informant in an attempt to aid Emmett's release, and that worked to a degree, only for him to be poisoned by the alcohol he drank when he celebrated his subsequent release. The last we see of Emmett is him likely in the last moments of his life, on the floor of his office.

I'll pause for a moment to ask why the Castillos are so determined to have someone they approve of in the DA's position. They killed Denver, Miller likely wouldn't have lasted much longer as it was, and then they likely killed Emmett because he was thinking about running for the job. What is it about this part of Philadelphia that makes the Castillos want to exert so much control over it, and with that particular position? Suffice to say I'm battling with this one.

He has no one. Meanwhile we all have each other.
To be honest, I found the dynamics between the students far more interesting than what happened among the adults. It became clear something was brewing for Laurel early on because of her attempt to secure Christopher's future in the hands of the newly married Connor and Oliver. Gabriel also tipped Michaela off that Laurel had approached FBI Agent Tedesco for an immunity deal, though his assumptions were a bit off, causing Michaela to react rather strongly and Laurel to prove her loyalty by producing the blanket that had Miller's blood on it. The students were also struggling with what to do about the remains of Laurel's mother that had been sent to them. Asher did some digging and found precedent to prove that the FBI had failed in their duty, and also managed to get Agent Tedesco fired.



Tedesco could still do plenty of damage though. She barged in on Gabriel once more, threatening blackmail if he didn't provide information on Annalise. He stood firm, and sought advice from Michaela. That turned into much more later on, with the pair sharing a sudden kiss. I rather enjoyed this moment actually, though despite Tedesco packing her things, her last act of the season is to call Gabriel's mother, so more trouble will no doubt be incoming in a sixth season. Other than Laurel's close family ties and subsequent abduction along with Christopher, the students feel to me like they've been largely forgotten about with this larger season-long arc. The excuse for that - and I suppose it's reasonable - is the introduction of Gabriel, but that can only go on for so long, hence why Laurel was abducted because that brings all the characters under the same motivational umbrella, which is to get her and the baby back alive.
Annalise, you’ve done so much to protect me, so I just wanna say thank you.
In terms of the finale, that's really about it. There's not much more for me to add. Going forward into a potential sixth season, we've got Laurel and the baby missing, Emmett dead, Xavier in play, the FBI still sniffing about, and the Governor persisting at being a nuisance. I was roundly critical of the Castillo family being reintroduced, and this finale has only reinforced why I believe that's a bad move. There's not really anything nice to say about it. The Castillo arc has had its time, it's already been overused, and it's time for it to be left behind.

In terms of the season as a whole, it's not been much good. The front half of the season had a reasonably strong premiere, but the trademark weekly flash forwards somehow managed to be even worse than those of season 4. They lacked content, regularity, and ingenuity. The first person perspective used in the premiere was potentially game changing, but it wasn't seen again except for maybe one other occasion.

The supreme court case Annalise took through was a big part of the season's front half also. The back half saw its effects dissolve away, with the lower caliber Governor's conspiracy and Lahey Sr's murder taking over instead. Bonnie's past received brief attention also, as did Gabriel's interesting history. Connor and Oliver got married, though Connor's mother in particular was a major detraction. Relationships were toned down this season, with Asher and Michaela breaking up, Laurel and Frank being almost non-existent, and despite the aforementioned marriage, even that featured no steamy scenes.



All up, this finale hasn't left me with a large degree of enthusiasm for a sixth season. Innovation in multiple areas was badly needed in this season, and that didn't happen. The flash forwards in particular do need improving. Three new series regulars just didn't cut the mustard because they took away screen time from the other long term characters, and while Gabriel settled in better because the character was more strongly developed, Tegan lacked that, and Emmett ended up dead, which made the focus on him a couple of weeks ago essentially wasted. The groundbreaking first couple of seasons of How To Get Away With Murder feel like so long ago, and while we won't hit that level again, the talent among the cast and writers is still there. They just need to use that talent and head in the right direction with it, not the wrong direction.

I don't really have anything else to add so I guess now's a good time to wrap this review on this finale and this season. To the regular and sporadic readers alike, thanks a lot for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. It's very much appreciated. For the final time, I'd love to hear what you thought on this season finale so make sure you leave your thoughts and theories in the comments below, and vote in the opinion poll. If a sixth season comes our way I'll see you right back here.

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