How To Get Away With Murder Just Showed Us How Not To Handle A Finale

Photo: ABC/Richard Cartwright.
Warning: This article contains spoilers about the Season 3 finale of How To Get Away With Murder.
How To Get Away With Murder has officially jumped the shark.
The first half of the third season focused on the suspense of who was under the sheet after the Keating house fire. The midseason finale was shocking — we were lead to believe that the Keating Five were all safe. But through the show's clever timeframe manipulation, we learned that Wes (Alfred Enoch) was, sadly, the one who'd died.
With that out of the way, the second half of the season was all about who killed Wes. A death is never because of natural causes on this show; of course he was murdered. We saw Frank (Charlie Weber) confess to the crime, though it was always obvious he was lying. Nate (Billy Brown) was consistently suspicious. And there was always the chance that Bonnie (Liza Weil) killed Wes, since he never found out the truth about how Rebecca died.
The show wanted us to keep guessing who Wes' killer could be, dropping "clues" in every episode. But none of our speculation mattered, because it turned out that the man behind Wes' death was Laurel's dad.
Hang on, what?
Yep, that's the direction the show took here. None of our theories mattered, because Wes' killer was a minor character who was barely even featured this season. And not even one of the minor characters we were suspicious of, like Meggy and Simon, who were apparently nothing more than red herrings the whole time.
Laurel's dad is such a minor character that he's been played by two different actors, according to the HTGAWM IMDB page. We know almost nothing about him. He and Laurel (Karla Souza) don't get along well, though she hasn't cut him out of her life completely. He had no problem tracking Laurel's phone activity to learn about her relationship with Frank. He apparently made her recant an account of being kidnapped, and he owns a telecommunications company, though he also has henchmen to do his bidding. And that includes having Laurel's "family friend," Dominic, kill Wes inside Annalise's (Viola Davis) house.
There is no way to have seen this "reveal" coming, because Laurel's father literally has no motive for killing Wes, or at least none that we know of. Did he want his daughter to be single? Was he unhappy Laurel was dating a Black man? Surely that's not enough motivation for murder, but what is? Did he even know Laurel and Wes were dating? There are so many unanswered questions here, I don't even know where to start.
The first half of HTGAWM's third season worked because it maintained its procedural status, even through the "who's under the sheet" mystery. The students got to defend real clients, and the cases mirrored the larger plots beautifully. But in the second half of the season, all of that was gone. There was certainly no classroom; the only courtroom scenes were for Annalise and Frank's own cases. It was entirely about who killed Wes, which is why the finale was so disappointing.
Photo: ABC/Mitch Haaseth.
There were so many potential murder scenarios that would have worked here. Bonnie killing Wes after he found out about Rebecca was a believable one. And having perennial good-guys Nate and Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) would have been an excellent turn, too.
But as it turns out, none of the hints we saw this season mattered at all. Nate is still helping Annalise. Bonnie isn't hiding details about Wes' death — she's really just that stupid. (How did she fall in with Annalise in the first place?) And aside from the red herrings, there are so many unanswered questions! Who the heck did Wes call when he identified himself as Christophe? Why didn't the show bother to age Charles Mahoney in present-day if he's supposed to be Wes's father? And honestly, do we even really know why Annalise told everyone to go to her house the night of the fire?
The sad thing is, I was almost ready to get on board with A.D.A. Denver (Benito Martinez) being behind it all. When Dominic made that phone call, I assumed it was to Denver, since we already knew he'd go to any possible length to put Annalise behind bars. Dominic's murder of Wes was graphic, but maybe Wes was just a pawn in Denver's revenge on Annalise. It tied back to the Hapstall case, so, sure, why not? But not even the Denver reveal mattered in the end, because it was — again — Laurel's father. Even if Laurel's father is in cahoots with Denver, or turns out to know the Mahoneys, does it really matter? This was still a cheap twist.
At this point, the only thing holding the show together is Annalise, thanks to Viola Davis' tremendous acting. Thankfully, the episode didn't end on Laurel's dad, but on Annalise crying as she admitted she'd always seen Wes as a sort of son. It was heartbreaking to watch her finally address his death in such an honest manner.
As terrible as she's been to pretty much everyone else on this show, Annalise isn't actually a killer. It's still possible for us to feel empathy for her character in a way we can't for someone like Bonnie or even Frank. She cares so deeply for her students, Wes most of all. And his death truly did break her. For all the ridiculousness about Dominic and Laurel's father, at least that final scene added some much-needed emotion to the finale.
I wish she hadn't had to throw Wes under the bus — it makes my blood boil that his legacy will be as Rebecca's killer. And I hate that she had to portray him as someone who'd been "violent" since childhood, when he had a bigger heart than anyone else on this show. But it's heartbreaking how much she and Wes both cared about each other, as that final voicemail proved. How To Get Away With Murder can't sell me on the twists anymore, but I'll always be sold on Viola Davis' beautiful portrayal of Annalise Keating.

More from TV

R29 Original Series