How To Get Away With Murder is juggling a lot right now, to say the least. There isn’t time for a case of the week in “Meet Bonnie,” as the writers step back for a second to examine all of the spinning pieces of the season’s more long-term plotting and try to make some more connections so that those pieces don’t seem so disparate. “Meet Bonnie” attempts to connect, well, just about everything that has happened since the show started. Sam’s murder, Rebecca’s murder, and every major decision made in efforts to cover up both are at play in the episode. It’s no doubt a mess, but it’s an interconnected one that is finally starting to look more like an intricate web than just separate piles of clutter.
“Meet Bonnie” has just as much going on as last week’s unfocused “Skanks Get Shanked”—in fact, there are even more time jumps here—but it’s an overall tighter and more cohesive episode that moves the story forward. Things are certainly starting to come together, and the episode spends more time answering questions than it does raising new ones. Michaela, Connor, and Laurel spend most of the episode teetering in paranoia once they realize Asher knows something. As scattered as How To Get Away With Murder can be, almost every choice these characters make has some sort of significance to the story. Sometimes, it can just take a while for that significance to come to light. Suddenly, it matters once again that Asher wasn’t involved on the night of Sam’s murder. It makes it possible for Bonnie to manipulate Asher in the ways she does here.
Asher has always seemed to exist on a completely different show. Part of this has to do with how the character is written. He’s so gullible, so dumb, so entrenched in his privilege, that it’s impossible to take the character seriously. In season one, he worked well as a comic relief character some of the time. And then, the mere fact that he wasn’t involved on the night of Sam’s murder made him even more detached from the rest of the show. It was a strange choice to make him such a key player in season two with this whole informant plot, because as over-the-top as Murder is, Asher is just such an extreme that the character just never feels grounded.
And even in tonight’s episode, when Asher is probably the most important he has ever been, he functions as a device moreso than a character. He destabilizes the group. Even though he’s a crucial part of the plot in “Meet Bonnie,” the episode focuses more on how his actions affect the other characters than it does on character development for Asher himself. In a way, that’s a good thing. It would feel forced and mechanical for the show to suddenly treat Asher as a fully realized character just for the sake of this episode. Instead, he’s used to heighten the tension. He throws Michaela, Laurel, and Connor into a spiral that leads to some fun—albeit dark—stuff, like Connor’s daydrinking, his proposal of a Keating Five orgy, and, of course, Laurel wanting to get her “mind off the doom” via rough sex with Frank in Annalise’s basement.
Bonnie’s lie to Asher may start as her simple way of trying to get Asher to not testify, but it gathers traction, affecting every character in different ways and eventually growing too big to stop. Bonnie’s motivation to lie is clear: If there’s one thing we know for certain about the character, it’s that she’ll do anything, at any cost, to protect Annalise. And Annalise perpetuates the lie, because she’ll do anything, at any cost, to protect herself…and Wes. She assures Michaela, Laurel, and Connor that she would do anything to protect all of them, but if that were true, would she really be holding onto Connor’s car as potential blackmail? Probably not. Annalise even feeds the lie to Nate, and just like that, the fact that Bonnie killed Sam becomes the new lie these characters have to either accept, question, or reinforce—depending on who they are and how much they know. But the fact of the matter is that the lie affects them all profoundly. The episode feels more focused than most, because so much of it depends on the lie
The only disconnected piece of “Meet Bonnie” is Wes, because Wes also seems like he exists on a different show lately. At least the other characters are starting to notice how detached Wes is and it’s becoming something the show itself is commenting on. But the stakes of Levi and Wes’s poking into Rebecca’s disappearance still just aren’t there. At least tonight, there’s the solid payoff of the storage locker reveal. I knew there was no way Rebecca’s body was going to be in that suitcase, but the sequence revealing that Frank was fifty steps ahead of Levi and Wes the whole time was still super fun. Honestly, this is the best way for the show to use Frank—as a the quiet and dutiful fixer, a bit like Tom Shayes on Damages. And the show’s attempts thus far at showing a different side of Frank—especially when it comes to his relationship with Laurel—have been uneven and empty.
Annalise no doubt drops some truth bombs on Asher about the politics of reporting rape. “The police are trained to believe you,” she tells him, explaining white and male privilege in simple terms that even Asher can understand. But it’s unfortunate that she’s making all of these cogent points inside of such a big lie. It reminds me of when, back in season one, Annalise had Rebecca accuse Griffin of rape merely as a strategy for the case. That episode similarly had a lot of smart things to say about courtroom politics and sexism, but it did so within a storyline about a false rape accusation. One of How To Get Away With Murder’s most frustrating and most subversive qualities is its tendency to infuse really fucked up situations and storylines with really smart, piercing messages. The show certainly doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to highlighting systemic sexism and racism whenever it can. But a big part of rape culture is the assumption that women lie about being raped—a point Annalise herself makes—and yet, this show has now included two instances of women lying about rape. And the fact that Bonnie truly is a survivor of sexual abuse makes it even more perplexing that the show uses her in a storyline that relies on a false rape accusation. The show is reinforcing the same problem it’s trying to shed light on, and that in and of itself can be more confusing than the overload of plot Murder stuffs in every episode.
- Emily Sinclair reminds me of a lowkey Nancy Crozier (Mamie Gummer’s character on The Good Wife). She isn’t nearly as much of a comical character, but she does have that sort of pseudo “good girl” quality to her in the courtroom, like when she says “pardon my French, your honor, but bull” during tonight’s hearing. I wouldn’t be surprised if she reveals she’s from Michigan.
- On that note, I’m sort of maybe starting to like Emily Sinclair?
- Connor and Oliver continue to be one of the best parts of the show. Connor tells Oliver he loves him tonight, and my immediate reaction was joy, followed by dread, because I know
- “Back off. She’s mine,” Laurel jokingly says to Connor about Michaela when Connor floats the idea of a Keating Five orgy. Okay, have the writers of this show been reading my shipper tweets? But then Laurel jumps Frank in the basement. Hey, at least this episode implicitly acknowledges through the orgy conversation that just about anyone could fuck anyone on this show and it wouldn’t be all that surprising.
- Speaking of which, Frank’s first assumption when Annalise says she caught Nate and Wes is that they’re screwing. Hey, it’s a fair question on this show.
- For the second time this season, Michaela gets caught talking dirty on the phone by someone.
- “Men lie. It’s all they’re good at.” Did Annalise just provide the official thesis statement of this show?