'How To Get Away With Murder' Season 6 Episode 11: Cicely Tyson's Ophelia is masterful and award-worthy
Annalise Keating might be the star of the show but that's not the case when her "mama" is in the picture. The lady just knocks everyone out. Ophelia Harkness might be old and a dementia patient but she is a powerful character and an important one, if you really want to understand Annalise.
Of course, it’s not the first time we saw Cicely Tyson in action. She had appeared on and off to support her daughter, but Episode 11 was special. Ophelia was the real star today. She deciphered what turned Anna Mae into Annalise and who she really is. And in the process, Tyson gave us an award-winning performance and an insight into Ophelia's character.
The 95-year-old actor was magic on screen. For someone who has been in the business for that long, it would be unfair to critically analyze her work. Rather, we want to understand what her character delivered today. Ophelia's role in Episode 11 was about shedding light on a lot of questions that we have had for a while. As events developed, we did learn a lot about Annalise but her mother laid it all out on the table for us.
‘Reckoning’ was indeed about realizing and exploring answers we all have been seeking for a while. Ophelia might be a victim of old age but she could point right at her daughter’s psyche. She figured out why Annalise always protected everyone around her as her children, trying to be the parent she never could, and how losing her own baby and her childhood abuse made her want to save the ones close to her.
Most importantly, Ophelia also pointed out how the betrayal from the men in her life translated into her bad decisions. It was interesting to see how these events of Annalise's life became the basis of an intense conversation about her sexuality with her mother. Despite being of an older generation, Ophelia’s understanding was liberal and supportive.
Here was the transition of the mother's character from being the interrogating kind to a friend who understands alternative or even confused sexuality of her middle-aged daughter who has lost her identity after going through a lot of struggles.
In simpler words, Tyson was magical on screen and convinced us that even a guest appearance can turn out to be award-worthy.
Tyson in 'Reckoning' came with the weight of a character that managed to overshadow someone like Viola Davis. And yet, without the magical chemistry of Davis and Tyson, there wouldn’t be the mother-daughter image of Annalise and Ophelia that owned the screen in this episode.
‘How To Get Away With Murder’ Season 6 airs every Thursday, 10pm/9c only on ABC.