This week’s returning episode of How To Get Away With Murder attempts to use a lot of fancy editing to obscure the fact that it’s mostly just an hour-long recap. Most serialized shows require an info-dump episode from time to time, but this isn’t even so much of an info dump as it is an info recycler. The episode spends a lot of time in the police interviews of Annalise, Wes, Bonnie, Laurel, Michaela, Asher, and Connor, who all tell a combination of truths and lies to the cops about the events leading up to Sam’s death. Their statements are interspersed with quick jumps back to what actually happened—most of which we’ve already seen. It’s some sleek editing, but beyond the spectacle, there isn’t much there, which continues to be the show’s greatest problem. Sure, the show has been on its winter break for a while, and weaving the recap into the actual narrative instead of a clunky “previously on” segment at the top feels more fluid, but about halfway through the episode, it already starts to feel tired.
After their heated final showdown and with the added bonus that Sam’s dead now, Annalise no longer has any reason to cover up for her husband. So she finally decides to dig up proof that he was Lila’s true murderer so the team can get the charges against Rebecca dropped. She breaks the team up with specific tasks for uncovering new evidence to support that Sam had a motive. Everyone scatters, and we get a chance to check in with all of the fucked up romantic pairings of this show. Laurel tells Frank they’re done because he lied to her about his long-distance girlfriend (she also cheated on her legal aid boyfriend and lied to him, but that’s different, because Laurel says so). Then Oliver and Connor have some back-and-forth banter about Connor’s drug problem and Oliver’s new underwear model boyfriend. Bonnie tells Asher to get it in his head that what happened between them was a one-time thing, never to be repeated. Wes lies to Rebecca about Annalise’s involvement—at the request of Annalise—but Rebecca seems to know something’s up, because she’s perceptive!
It all reminds me that none of these pairings are worth rooting for. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe there just are no ships worth shipping on this show. Romance, after all, isn’t exactly what a series about murder has to offer. But if the writers aren’t going to make me care about the relationships, there needs to be something else I can care about—some sort of emotional backbone to the series. The other option is to run on thrills alone, replacing emotion with sheer excitement. That wouldn’t necessarily be a sustainable path for the series, but it would be something. Murder doesn’t really bring the feelings or the thrills this week.
Things do technically happen. Most notably, the case against Rebecca is dropped once and for all when location data on Sam’s laptop reveals he was at the sorority at approximately the time of the crime. We once again get to see Annalise and her crew slow-motion walk out of court, which never fails to look awesome no matter how many times we see it. But my favorite moment in the episode is actually much simpler and stripped-down. After the judge’s decision, Annalise takes a moment to herself in the bathroom and overhears two women talking trash about her. They criticize her seeming lack of emotion during the trial, compare her to an animal. Annalise hears everything and slowly emerges from the stall with an icy stare that the women dare not meet. I’m all about Annalise being a more developed character. So far this season, it has been hard to pin down exactly what her motivations are. Seeing this moment of both vulnerability and strength in the bathroom works toward developing Annalise as a more complex character. There’s a clear disconnect between who Annalise is and who others perceive her to be, and I hope we get to explore that more.
Laurel, Michaela, and Connor are, at last, starting to make some smart decisions. Michaela and Connor—paranoid that the cops know more than they’re letting on—convince Laurel that their best option is to tell the truth. Wes murdered Sam, not them, and even though they could be culpable, they decide that making a deal might be better in the long run. But at the last minute, they’re intercepted by Annalise and Wes, who can’t keep up the lie. Annalise tells them she’s going to teach them, well, how to get away with murder! Only this time, the stakes are higher than ever, technically. If only it could start to feel that way.
- The other reveal I’m pretty excited about but doesn’t quite mean anything—yet—is the introduction of Sam’s sister, played by the wonderful Marcia Gay Harden!
- Viola Davis’ performance throughout the episode is on-point, as usual. She’s silent in the bathroom scene, but her face says everything.
- I wonder what Annalise actually said to Frank. I don’t get the impression that he really knew everything about her involvement with the cover-up, even though that’s the way Laurel reads it. All we know is that it has something to do with Bonnie, as Annalise told him that she can never know.
- Speaking of Lawyer Paris Geller, doesn’t it still seem like she’s in love with Annalise every time they have a scene together? I mean just look at that look she’s giving her in the photo running with this review.
- The weird Oedipal tension between Annalise and Wes continues.
- “The one thing I know how to be is smart.” Michaela pretty accurately sums up the one-note nature of her character development.
- I do love that Michaela tries to use the whole situation as a way to get out of the final exam. “LOL YEAH RIGHT.” - Annalise, basically
- Their final exam ends up being a very loosely disguised version of their exact situation.
- This episode also reminded me how much I despise Sam Keating. So glad we don’t have to deal with him anymore.