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How To Get Away With Murder - Vivian’s Here - Review: "Forgettable"

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Week two of the 2019-2020 network television season also brought with it the second episode of the final season of ABC's How To Get Away With Murder. After a premiere that had me cautiously optimistic about this sixth season, this episode was all over the place with reintroduced and rehashed plots. The showrunners simply refuse to let sleeping dogs lie. "Vivian’s Here" was written by Michael Russo and directed by Mike Smith.

This episode was incredibly fast-paced, when it didn't really need to be. Everyone had something to do, but because the teamwork aspect that's usually present in a How To Get Away With Murder episode was largely missing, keeping up with what was happening was a difficult task at times.

I'm just here to give you enough rope to hang yourselves with.
Somewhat surprisingly, the hour opened inside the classroom, where we're told the law students are entering their final semester. This scene was more or less present to build a brief foundation and context for how this season's weekly cases would be working. After being dumped from the class last season, Asher managed to secure his spot again given his handiwork last season, and also thanks to Laurel's place being vacated.

With that out of the way, we had a case on our hands that was more than relevant in today's America - an illegal immigrant child that had been captured by ICE agents and in need of a legal team to help him seek asylum. The case was gifted to Connor, with Asher in second chair, and the duo later dragged Tegan into the mix thanks to her Spanish speaking abilities.

Connor has always been the easiest of the Keating 5 to wind up. While his friends might need a lit match to light their fuses, Connor is off like a rocket at the mere sight of a spark. There was already tension there because of Annalise's refusal to reveal why she picked him for the team way back in season 1, but with no answer forthcoming, he had more energy to sink into his legal work. I'm glossing over details here because weekly cases like this serve no longer term purpose in terms of storytelling, but by getting an actor to wear an ICE jacket in the courtroom, Connor was able to elicit a reaction from his child client, and win a favorable ruling by the judge.

With Annalise's hands effectively absent from that case, that freed her up to try and explain what the hell her deal was with Vivian Maddox. It turns out that Annalise and Vivian are both former wives of Sam Keating. It was known last season that Sam was Gabriel's father, and Gabriel had chosen Middleton University specifically to help him dig deeper into this past, but Vivian's connection to Sam is new, and she's definitely one to add to the list of suspects in Annalise's assumed death in the flash forwards. More on that shortly, but man, Sam Keating continues to disrupt the lives of the characters despite his death taking place 5 seasons ago. Along with Jorge Castillo making yet another appearance, albeit from prison this time thankfully, my long-held concerns about old storylines that should have been left for dead but are constantly reappearing.

In what was a whirlwind episode for Michaela, after setting out to meet her father in the wake of finding out Annalise knew him and withheld that information from her, Michaela found out he had died a year earlier in prison from a stroke. I have to say I was rather thankful that this was the case because things are complex enough at the moment, but what it will likely do is provide another life struggle for her and Gabriel to bond over, though ironically, Michaela had a significant hand in the death of Sam Keating. That secret will almost certainly be revealed at some point this season given it's a final season, but I'm looking forward to the fallout from it.

Frank, meanwhile, was the only character pressing further ahead on Laurel's disappearance. He took the key he found last week to the bank but wasn't allowed to view the safety deposit box it belonged to. He asked Annalise who the other access holder was, and she told him it was Wes, and the box likely contained information that would reveal the big secrets he was tied up in from his time in the series. One forged ID later and he was in, but its contents was missing, and Laurel had apparently visited 3 days prior, though given how easily Frank forged Wes's ID, it's not unreasonable to suggest someone did the same thing to impersonate Laurel. I mentioned Jorge before - meeting him was Frank's first stop before trying the bank, but he couldn't glean any useful information, just more of the usual clichéd attempted psychological manipulation that you see pretty much any time any character meets a prisoner in prison ever.

The most surprising part of this episode in my opinion was Bonnie getting herself fired from the district attorneys office for forging a charge against Vivian Maddox to unseal a criminal record. That's important because Bonnie's connection inside that office has been handy on numerous occasions, but not any more. Everyone is now essentially flying blind on what the police and/or FBI will do next. Annalise's chat was Bonnie was also rather intriguing. They both said they love each other, but Bonnie was on the receiving end of Annalise's advice to stop trying to help everyone because it comes at enormous personal expense as Bonnie learned this time.
They're coming for us, Bonnie. It's not if, it's when.
The only character to have a quiet night was Oliver. He was hardly seen at all aside from when he was helping Michaela do some investigating, including when he walked in on her in the bathroom. That was almost as entertaining as when Vivian barged in on Gabriel just as he and Michaela were about to relieve each other's stress.
We have a dead informant on our hands, Michaela.
That leaves this week's flash forward to get to. As more recent seasons have shown, unsurprisingly this week's effort was pretty brief, and came only at the end of the episode. It featured Michaela being held for questioning by the FBI, in which they reveal her fingerprints are on the weapon used to kill an informant. That murder weapon was the fire iron she brandished in last week's episode, so perhaps she used it again to kill someone, though the look on her face leaned slightly towards that not being the case. What is interesting is that we have a murder weapon that's been essentially confirmed. In no other season (aside from season 3 when Annalise was shot) do we have a weapon that's been confirmed so early on. It's always been a dead body with little clue as to how it died. Maybe the showrunners played Cluedo during the off-season?

All up, this episode progressed at breakneck speed, but for me I felt no emotional investment in it, despite the child illegal immigrant case, Bonnie's job loss, Annalise and Vivian's discussion about Sam, and Michaela's father's death and her ensuing anger. I just didn't care enough about any of that because aside from Bonnie's situation, it's not new or exciting enough, and looking back through this review I think it's also a rather emotionless read. For me, the most important outcome is that we're one week closer to finding out who supposedly killed Annalise, so I can let this forgettable episode pass by and come back next week in the hope of something better.

That's enough from me, so now it's over to you. Am I looking at things all wrong, or do my impressions of this episode of How To Get Away With Murder align with yours? I'd love to hear your thoughts so make them known in the comments below. See you all right back here next week.

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