2:15 pm EDT, May 15, 2020

‘HTGAWM’ series finale review: How to live with getting away with murder

Annalise Keating gave her closing statements in more ways than one in the HTGAWM series finale.

They did it, guys! They finally got away with murder, once and for all. It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t without consequences. The journey was beautiful and horrifying, and some might even say it wasn’t worth it. But one thing is for sure. It’s over.

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The HTGAWM series finale both honored and deviated from the show’s usual formula by containing its rapid rewinds and flash forwards within the episode. Before we even got to hear Annalise’s closing arguments we knew that no matter what, things weren’t going to end well. I’m sure I’m not the only one who changed the context of Annalise’s funeral in my brain when I heard those gun shots. After six seasons of chaos, HTGAWM couldn’t just let things end peacefully!

In true HTGAWM fashion, I’ll get back to that, and rewind back to the beginning of the episode. Although a lot of this episode took place in the courtroom, it wasn’t the final courtroom battle that I expected.

I so badly wanted to see Annalise go head-to-head with her accusers and take them down, once and for all. I wanted the episode to end with Governor Birkhead and half of the FBI in handcuffs, with Annalise being carried out of the trial by her supporters and cheered by her oppressors, because even they couldn’t deny how thoroughly the queen slayed. It’s been such a long fight against the governor, and I wanted Annalise to be the one to wipe that politician smirk off of her face.

In reality, the courtroom drama was fairly anti-climactic. HTGAWM chose to make the series finale more about the internal battles of the characters than the external fight, and I actually ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would.

Jorge’s testimony amounted to a whole lot of nothing, which leaves me very confused about his fate. It doesn’t seem like anyone really has sufficient motive to want him dead, unless the governor was worried about any future testimonies or Frank asked someone to help him thoroughly wipe out all of the threats to Annalise. These options seem equally likely.

Gabriel was easily bought off, and got to walk away with a fresh start. Even Hannah’s postmortem testimony only served to cast doubt on the governor’s reliability. Considering the fact that they were hanging their entire defense on Hannah, that part seemed anti-climactic.

Of all the courtroom drama in the HTGAWM series finale, Nate’s testimony actually turned out to be the most interesting. After going rogue all season, he surprisingly took Annalise’s side. He decided to own his part of everything that happened, and move on from everything with no hard feelings.

Incredibly, Nate’s happy ending was one of my favorite character resolutions in the series. I just wonder if Annalise and Tegan got to be involved with the Lahey Justice Center, or if they all cut ties completely. I like to think that they were able to bury the hatchet.

htgawm series finale

Of course, Annalise’s closing argument still managed to be epic. She didn’t use it to place the blame on anyone else, or launch a counter-attack. She simply appealed to the jury as the tired, broken, strong, and messy person that she is, and told her story. Because that’s all there is in the court of law. One story versus another. She poured her heart out and asked the jury to believe her’s.

I got chills when she proudly proclaimed herself to be “Anna Mae Harkness,” and sobbed when she ran to hug her mama after the verdict was delivered. It put a nice bow on the HTGAWM series for Annalise. She’s always been a great lawyer, but that great lawyer hasn’t always been her. Everything she went through stripped her down to her true voice, which she then learned to strengthen and amplify.

Eve’s eulogy was equally touching. I’m so glad she got to be a part of the series finale, considering she meant so much to Annalise. Both women did an excellent job of articulating who this woman was, what she meant to the people around her, and what the character has meant for so many viewers of HTGAWM. Tegan also got to say her piece, when she finally confessed her love for Annalise. Even though Annalise claimed that she couldn’t love her back, I think those dancing scenes indicate that she was wrong!

Unfortunately, the two people who were the most loyal to Annalise weren’t able to attend her future funeral, because they tragically met their demise in the HTGAWM series finale. In all honesty, this was probably my least favorite part of the episode. I didn’t like it. Not one bit.

htgawm season 6 episode 15

It’s not that I can’t see why Frank did what he did. Hearing who his parents were messed him up big time. It was heartbreaking to hear him tell Bonnie that she never should have told him, and even worse to think that he’ll never have the chance to grow to love her again.

It’s also been well established that Frank would do anything for Annalise. A part of him never stopped feeling guilty for his part in killing her baby. The role that Sam played in that makes the whole thing even more gross to Frank now.

It just would have made a lot more sense if Frank had killed someone with a more direct tie to his situation. If it had been revealed that Hannah was a huge part of Annalise’s downfall and Frank killed her in an outburst, I could get behind it. However, since it was the governor, the only explanation we’re left with is that he was reeling from the news of his parentage. If it had just been about protecting Annalise, he could have found a less dangerous way of killing the governor, and then he and Bonnie would still be alive.

As happy as I am that Governor Birkhead is dead, it just doesn’t warrant the deaths of those two characters. It seems like it’s just tragedy for the sake of tragedy. I understand that HTGAWM didn’t want to make it seem like it was that easy and consequence free to get away with murder, but I would have appreciated a more logical approach to that conclusion.

Bonnie has been through more than anyone should ever had to endure, and to give her such an unceremonious death just seems wrong. The HTGAWM series finale moved on so quickly after the deaths of Frank and Bonnie that we barely had a chance to understand what happened, let alone mourn them.

htgawm series finale

If there’s one thing the HTGAWM series finale could have benefited from, it’s more time. The quick cut away from these deaths was just one example of the episode feeling extremely rushed. If you blinked you probably missed someone’s testimony, Gabriel just kind of stalked in the background of the episode, Asher and Wes were barely mentioned, and the Keating 5 got essentially no resolution together. I would have been much happier with a 90 minute or two hour finale.

Speaking of the consequences of getting away with murder, the Keating 5 had a few of their own. Laurel made out okay, but it seems like she regrets some of the decisions she made to get there. She had to be selfish to keep Christopher safe, and she completely isolated herself from her loved ones in doing so. We see that she’s safe and happy with Christopher in the end, but I think she might change some of her actions if she had the chance.

Interestingly, it looks like Michaela began to make similar choices in the last season of HTGAWM, and is suffering the same consequences. At the end of the trial, she is completely alone.

Even though she’s clearly broken by that fact, I actually don’t think Michaela regrets her choices. She is able to compartmentalize because she’s had to do that to survive. That doesn’t mean that she’s a sociopath, it means that she’s had to create immovable boundaries and look out for herself above all. She may come off as more heartless than Connor and Laurel, but her reality could not be more different from their’s.

I think Michaela knows that she did the right thing for her and I don’t believe she would take any of it back. It sucks that she lost her friends because of it, but as we saw in her flash forward, she still found love and the success that she deserves. You can make new friends, but you can’t get five years of your life back or erase the fact that you went to prison. I think it’s safe to assume that Michaela completely lost touch with the others since she didn’t attend the funeral, but I wouldn’t blame any of these people for wanting to leave all of this behind them, as much as I’d like to see them being friends for life.

htgawm series finale

Where Michaela could compartmentalize, Connor could not. He couldn’t shake the guilt from both what he’d done and what he’d said about Annalise, so even though Oliver negotiated a better deal for him, he chose to spend five years in prison.

Even if I’d hated everything else in the HTGAWM series finale (which I definitely did not), the Coliver scenes would have made up for it. They were so perfect, and hit me in absolutely all of the feels.

Oliver fighting until the very last moment for Connor? Perfect. Connor setting Oliver free? Perfect. Their goodbye in the courthouse? Absolutely perfect. The fact that they grew old together? Just stop. It’s too perfect.

I completely understand why Connor did what he did. If he had done nothing to assuage his guilt, he and Oliver never would have stood a chance. He also couldn’t let Oliver stoop to the level he’d fallen to. They needed to fall apart here to have a hope of staying together.

My heart completely shattered when Connor told Oliver that he didn’t love him. I don’t know if he meant it or not, but either way, it was perfect. On one hand, he might have just said that so Oliver could live his life for the next five years. On the other hand, maybe he truly couldn’t love him anymore because all he could feel was guilt.

Whatever happened in the interim, it’s all okay because they were standing proudly together at Annalise’s funeral. While I really wasn’t a fan of their old people makeup, it was adorable to see the residual affection between Connor, Oliver, Laurel and Christopher. It was a beautiful full circle moment.

And in the most “full circle” moment possible, Christopher is now teaching “How to Get Away With Murder!” Alfred Enoch faked us all out, but Wes is not alive. He’s just the spitting image of his son.

I really liked this touch because it makes me feel like everything is really okay. Everyone has been able to move on and find happiness to the point that this class that led them to so much pain can begin anew as a positive thing.

That’s about as perfect of an ending as I can think of for the HTGAWM characters, especially with Annalise smiling down on Christopher as he taught, indicating that she had remained a big part of his life. There’s a lot of beauty in that, and I’m really glad that HTGAWM went out on that note.

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