If you’re like me, and when you heard ABC had added another (kind of) crime-solving drama to their lineup, you probably rolled your eyes. Sure, there are differences among them all (“Castle” has a great comedian in Nathan Fillion and sometimes “Criminal Minds” may cause me to lose some sleep), but the crime shows were wearing thin, in my opinion. But boy, was I wrong. “How to Get Away with Murder” is like no other show currently on TV.
In an opening with four law students huddled in a dark field, the audience learns immediately they have clearly just done something illegal. During a campus-wide bonfire for some sort of homecoming event, it’s difficult for these students to get rid of the evidence with people milling about. The audience is then transported back and forth between the present time in the field and what happened leading up to this illegal occurrence. I won’t give away much here, but, although the audience learns what the law students have done, there are still more questions lingering than answers explained when this first episode ends.
Enter Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), the optimistic first-year law student who admits he was on the university’s waiting list until the last second, and the audience knows he is more trusting and kind than his fellow students. I for one was more than looking forward to seeing Ginny Weasley’s ex-boyfriend not only pull off an American accent, but act like a Muggle as well. For me, besides Enoch (who appears to be our main character), Viola Davis and Liza Weil, the rest of the cast was completely unknown. But they were cast superbly well. When we see Wes Gibbins speak to Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King) for the first time, the audience really gets a sense of how annoying and almost stuck-up she’ll be; the first encounter of Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) shows the audience how cocky, yet self-assured he will be; and though she seems confident in her first moments on screen, Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) shows how unsure she will be. Watching each character and seeing what they’ll do to top each other and to impress professor Keating (Viola Davis), makes me wonder: what secrets are all these law students hiding?
And it’s not just the students; the people close to Keating are hiding things as well. Bonnie Winterbottom (Weil) is making eyes at professor Keating’s husband; Frank Delfino (Charlie Weber) is having a tryst with a student; and professor Keating’s husband seems too attached to that missing student of his. With brief but resonating scenes, we witness two other university students get in a shouting match over said missing student. Watching these scenes only lead to the question: did they have something to do with her disappearance?
I’m a sucker for a mystery. Suspense and wanting to find out whodunit before anyone else does both leave me on the edge of my seat. (Hence why I’ve been glued to the Pretty Little Liars book series for the past eight years). So when a fire was lit in the dark field of the opening scene, and it was revealed what our four main students had done, I knew I’d be sticking with this show. Because, like any good suspenseful story, I wanted to know how it happened.
With every character hiding something (with the possible exception of Wes), countless mysteries not adding up and loose ends that I just know will somehow all tie together, “Murder” will take your breath away — only, you’ll be able to catch your breath unlike the fate of some of the show’s characters. It may just be a good week for TV premieres, but I’m giving “Murder” a solid A for its pilot episode. The writing, the acting and the crave for wanting to know more have me captivated. “How to Get Away with Murder” needs to be added to everybody’s must-watch list, even if it means you’ll be anxiously awaiting the next episode. This isn’t your grandmother’s crime-solving drama.