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'How To Get Away With Murder' Review: Season 1, Episode 2

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on October 03, 2014 9:26 AM

Last week, we were introduced to Professor Viola Davis and her star pupil Dean Thomas, late of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (which apparently doesn't have a law school). This week, Professor Davis Keating helps Steven Weber -- also known as "Hey, aren't you the guy from 'Wings'?" -- escape conviction for murdering his wife. Needless to say, spoiler alerts!

Episode 2 of "How To Get Away With Murder" transforms the show from a hybrid law school/legal procedural into a full-on legal procedural. None of the members of Professor Keating's law clinic seems to have any other law school classes. Torts? Contracts? Anything? Or is this the law school's new "no thanks, I'm just interested in criminal law" program?

Anyway, this episode involves a wealthy Steven Weber who ends up with a dead wife. He's on the hook for murder and enlists the help of the Keating law firm. Most of that is uninteresting -- it's standard "Law & Order" and "CSI" stuff. More interesting is the slow reveal in the flash-forwards of what's going on 2 1/2 months in the future, when Dean Thomas (as Wait-List Wes) and the other law clinic students are skulking around in the dark with the dead body of Professor Keating's husband.

'My Clients, Like All of Us in This Room, Lie'

The episode's big Act 2 reveal occurs when we learn that Steven Weber murdered his first wife in Switzerland, then changed his name and fled to the United States. This raised a minor philosophical discussion (minor because the episode deals with it for only about 30 seconds): Would Professor Keating have taken the case if she had known about the previous murder? To anyone acquainted with criminal litigation, the answer is, "Of course she would."

That's really not the issue. She's just really upset that she had this surprise foisted on her; trial lawyers hate surprises. Whether criminal defense lawyers do, or should, represent guilty people isn't an interesting question. Statistically, some number of them will have actually committed the crime. All of us in the field know this, and we just don't care. We just want to know what factually happened so we can structure a defense.

Miscellaneous Comments

  • This relationship between Goth Girl and Wait-List Wes is like an Edgar Allan Poe story: "You remind me a lot of the guy who used to live in your apartment, I wonder what happened to him ..." and then we find out the previous tenant is buried under the floorboards.
  • I doubt homoeroticism is useful as a sustainable discovery strategy. I don't think it worked in "Scandal." But it's probably more cost-effective than paying an investigator.
  • The guard from "Orange Is the New Black" (Mister "I interned for Chief Justice Roberts") looks 20 years younger in this show!
  • I guess Professor Keating read our article about the Thomas Jefferson-dressing-up-defense attorney. Her trial strategy was the same as his: "The defendant's a pro at murdering, but this current one was a shoddy murder, so the defendant couldn't have done it. 'Cause he's such an awesome murderer."

Episode Superlatives

  • Best Quote: "Stop acting like a little bitch baby." (Good insult, "Orange Is the New Black" guard.)
  • Most Objectionable Legal Practice: The prosecution failing to disclose the existence of another, contradictory, exculpatory police report. That's a crossover from a separate series called "How to Get Away with a Brady Violation."
  • Best Rebuke to a 1L: After Wait-List Wes tells Goth Girl not to talk to police without a lawyer: "I know. I'm not an idiot and you're not a lawyer."

Final Thoughts

Once again, this episode is full of sexy sex, whether it's between Professor Keating and her husband or Connor and Oliver (the "hacker" who's "too old to be a twink"). I imagine dropouts of this law school go on to work for Derek Zoolander's modeling agency.

We're very slowly getting the reveal about what's going on in the outer frame of this story, but if it turns out to be as incoherent as "Lost," I'm going to kill someone.

What's your verdict on "How To Get Away With Murder" Episode 2? Share your thoughts with us via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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