Well, I certainly didn’t see that one coming!
But, let’s back up for a second. This week’s How To Get Away With Murder, thankfully, doesn’t really try any special framing devices. It tells its story directly, making it one of the more coherent episodes of this post-break portion of the season. We pick up where we left off, with the discovery of Sam’s remains. Laurel, Connor, Michaela, and Wes, understandably, are all losing their shit, convinced that the cops are onto them and also starting to think it might be possible that Annalise isn’t actually on their side. Asher, meanwhile, has no fucking clue what’s going on. And Rebecca is cool as a cucumber, probably because she’s a psycho killer herself or something. Although, she insists to Wes, again, that she isn’t hiding anything. But I’m not buying it.
This week, the students are mostly periphery, and as odd as this sounds, it’s a welcome change. We’ve been spending a little too much time with these unraveling, perpetually lurking little law students, and there hasn’t been much momentum to any of their arcs…another odd thing to say, considering the fact that all of them have become murderers or accessories to a murder over the season. But there’s only so much we can get from them becoming more and more paranoid that they’re going to get caught. Tonight, the show steps back a bit from the in-over-their-heads murder squad and gives us more time with Annalise, who, let’s be real, has been the best part of the show since day one.
When the cops show up at Annalise’s home, Hannah Keating immediately turns on Annalise, insisting that she killed Sam. Once again, Marcia Gay Harden acts on a level we’ve only really seen Viola Davis harness so far on this show, and it’s a real treat. I don’t entirely know what to make of Hannah Keating. She does seem, as Annalise is quick to point out, a little creepily adoring of her brother. She spends most of the episode helping the cops find evidence to use against Annalise, even goes up on the stand to testify that Annalise once threatened to kill Sam after a work mixer so that the cops can get their warrant to search the Keating household. I think part of the problem I’m having as I try to parse out Hannah as a character has to do with the holes in Sam’s character development. The Sam Hannah seems to remember is not the Sam we—or Annalise—knew at all. So, was Sam just some master manipulator and liar or is Hannah just as bad as he was and therefore doesn’t really care that he was a violent monster? Does she believe he was, as she says on the stand, a victim? I’m trying to wrap my mind around it all, but even as I’m unable to figure out exactly what is driving this character, there’s no denying that Harden is giving one hell of a performance. The heat she brings to the warrant hearing in court is so fun. Hannah had that courtroom laughing at Bonnie.
The side case this week is so insignificant story-wise that it doesn’t warrant much discussion, but it does provide some strong moments for Annalise. This episode doesn’t get too lost in all the tangled loose ends of Sam and Lila’s murders. Instead, it focuses in on Annalise and how people are perceiving her. My favorite moment from “Hello Raskolnikov” was that bathroom scene where the two women were talking about Annalise, policing her behaviors and making assumptions based on inherent biases. Tonight’s episode shows us even more of those biases manifesting in the way people talk to and treat Annalise. Everyone thinks she’s a husband killer because she isn’t acting the way they believe a woman whose husband has just died should act. Forget that Sam was a monster; no one even asks about that. And Annalise is in a difficult position: She can’t really say anything negative about Sam because of how it might look. So she spends most of the episode trying to ignore the judging comments and words from everyone else. “When in doubt, shut your mouth,” Annalise tells her class, kicking off her lesson on the Fifth Amendment. And she certainly seems to be taking her own advice.
A lot of the smaller reveals in this episode don’t have huge payoffs. Wes learns new things about Rudy, but they don’t really amount to anything. Bonnie pieces everything together on her own and comes to Annalise, but it’s not necessarily all that fun to watch a character spend a bunch of time figuring out what we already know. Plus, it’s getting increasingly harder to keep track of who knows what and who doesn’t on this show, so when Bonnie tells Annalise she knows everything, it’s kind of easy to just be like “oh, right, she didn’t know that already.” There is a bit of a fake out in this scene, with Bonnie telling Annalise she won’t get away with any of it. Presumably, we’re supposed to believe Bonnie might turn on her boss in this moment, but who’s going to fall for that? We might not know much about Bonnie Winterbottom, but we do know she’s nothing but fiercely loyal to Annalise. Why? That part, we don’t know. I still have my money on love.
But whereas the rest of the suspense of the episode doesn’t quite deliver, the last two minutes sure do. Annalise finally agrees to meet with the cops to be interviewed, and for a split second there, I was truly convinced that she was going to flip on the students. After all, she didn’t kill her husband. She can get out of this pretty easily by telling the truth. It wouldn’t necessarily be the right thing to do, but it also wouldn’t necessarily be a crazy thing to do. Instead, though, she turns on someone else: Nate. In flashback, we learn that she had Frank plant Sam’s ring in the woods (so relax, Michaela, it’s not yours) and also plant Nate’s fingerprint on the ring. The fact that Frank was in on the cover-up isn’t surprising in the least, but the fact that it’s her lover who she decides to frame is quite the twist. And I think Annalise has more up her sleeve. From what we know about the character, she does care a lot about others, even if outsiders perceive her as cold and heartless. It’s hard to tell exactly where her head is in all of this, but I don’t think she’s just throwing Nate to the wolves for the sake of self-preservation. She could have just as easily done that to her students, but she didn’t. My guess is there’s something bigger at play here. But Murder can’t continue to delay its payoffs. So much of this season has just felt like buildup, and with only one episode left before the two-hour season finale, there isn’t much time left to make it all count.
- “Incest is best, put your brother to the test.” Annalise claims this is something people say, but I have never heard anyone say this, ever.
- The only pairing worth shipping on this show is Annalise/vodka.
- So fun to watch Annalise slay in court, but between her and the prosecuting attorney shouting over each other and Hannah’s blatant shade throwing during the warrant hearing, it really does seem like the judges in this universe have no control over their courtrooms.
- This show still just can’t quite figure out the right balance between its Case Of The Week and its larger mystery framework, and unfortunately, there’s no real way to ditch either without changing the very foundation of the show.
- Give me more scenes between Annalise and Hannah, please.