Emmy episode analysis: Viola Davis on the warpath in ‘How to Get Away with Murder’

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Viola Davis is a two-time Tony winner and two-time Oscar nominee, but this year marks her first Emmy nomination. She plays Annalise Keating, a prominent law professor and criminal defense attorney on the ABC freshman drama “How to Get Away with Murder.” Can she win Emmy #1 with her episode submission, “Freakin’ Whack-a-Mole”?

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Annalise works on the appeal of a former client, an innocent man sentenced to death row years ago. As the case begins, the students soon realize that Ashur’s father was the judge on the original case, prompting him wonder if that’s why he was chosen as one of Annalise’s underlings. The team’s search for evidence leads them to a slippery Senator, whom Annalise theatrically attacks on the stand as being the real murderer. It works and her client is allowed to go free.

Meanwhile, Wes fails to show up for class because he’s mad that Annalise chose not to reveal everything about Lila’s murder case. Annalise visits his apartment to try to apologize and notices the fingernail marks on the wall. Later, she asks Frank to plant Lila’s phone in her boyfriend’s car so that the police can find it. Can Davis win her first Emmy for this episode? Let’s analyze the pros and cons.

Emmy voters love it when movie stars come to TV, and Davis is an A-lister with two former Oscar nominations to her name.

Her role is similar to that of Glenn Close‘s performance in the legal thriller “Damages.” Both ladies dominate their shows as the leading lawyers who get to show off incredible strength and range. Close won this category twice (2008, 2009).

Annalise’s attack of the Senator is reminiscent of three-time Emmy winner Alan Shore (James Spader) making passionate closing arguments each week on “Boston Legal.” Voters can’t get enough of these long, drawn-out monologues.

Shockingly, an African American has never won Best Drama Actress at the Emmys. It’s time though, right?

How to Get Away With Murder” wasn’t taken seriously at the Emmys this year, only receiving two nominations: one for Davis and one for her mother on the show, guest star Cicely Tyson.

Is this ABC soap simply too over-the-top to win a major Emmy Award?

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Photo Credit: ABC

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