‘How to Get Away with Murder’ ends with twisty finale shocker

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Fans of “How to Get Away with Murder” won’t be disappointed by Thursday night’s series finale, which closes the book on morally ambiguous lawyer Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and her not-so-merry band of student accomplices.

The 10 p.m. episode, “Stay,” remains true to the show’s trademark elements — shockers, labyrinthian/implausible plot twists and quick-cut chronological ping-pong-ing. And that’s a good thing, since it rewards viewers who’ve stuck around for all six seasons with a satisfying, teary conclusion that ties up the multiple loose ends and plotline riddles the series has posed since premiering on ABC in 2013.

Last week’s penultimate episode revolved around the opening of Annalise’s trial for orchestrating, and helping to cover up, a string of murders, starting with the Season 1 killing of her philandering husband, Sam (Tom Verica) — the trigger for related murders by and among her first-year law students: Connor (Jack Falahee), Michaela (Aja Naomi King), Laurel (Karla Souza), Asher (Matt McGorry) and Wes (Alfred Enoch), aided and abetted by Annalise’s loyal lieutenants Frank (Charlie Weber) and Bonnie (Liza Weil) and by Nate (Billy Brown), her ex-cop boyfriend who eventually turned.

Naomi King in "How to Get Away With Murder."
Naomi King in “How to Get Away with Murder.”ABC

And there were revelations: Frank learned the truth about his parents, Sam’s sister, Hannah (Marcia Gay Harden), was found dead and likely murdered and Laurel returned with her baby, Christopher, after a long period of hiding from her friends and her psychotic father, Jorge Castillo (Jose Zuniga).

In Thursday night’s series finale, Annalise’s trial continues to unfold in a Philadelphia courtroom; all of the aforementioned characters appear, in one form or another, bearing witness to the triumphs and failures of Annalise and of her minions, who, for various reasons, remain divided on whether to throw their former mentor under the legal bus and put her behind bars for a very long time. While that’s playing out, Annalise reflects on her past misdeeds and searches her soul for answers — was it all worth it? — while hitting the reset button on her “fearless lawyer” persona and charging full steam ahead, letting the chips fall where they may.

Viola Davis and Amirah Vann in "How to Get Away With Murder."
Viola Davis and Amirah Vann in “How to Get Away with Murder.”ABC

The episode is gripping and revelatory and will keep fans on the edges of their seats, even those (including yours truly) who grew jaded (and frustrated) over the show’s obtuse, often silly plot meanderings the past six seasons and with those overblown ABC promos voiced by the guy who sounds like Satan (“Get ready for the crazy in 3…2…1…!”)

While I wouldn’t put the finale of “How to Get Away with Murder” in a class with, say, “Six Feet Under” — still one of the greatest series exits of the past 20 years — it does provide closure (some good, some bad) for a series that, warts and all, was never boring.

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