You know those Lifetime movies “based on a true story” about the airplane pilot who has entire families on both coasts or something? You’d like to think both his wives were idiots, but they probably weren’t. They probably just loved the guy, and loved enough to trust him, and were completely deceived as a result. Because how well can we ever really know someone, even the person we’re married to?
The underlying theme of How To Get Away With Murder, other than how to get away with murder, is the duplicity of people, especially the people we’re closest to. This week’s intern spotlight falls on: Michaela, the snobby prom queen! Michaela is engaged to someone who slept with Connor in boarding school. Really, what are the odds? Her fiancee Aiden says it only happened that one time, that he’s not really gay, but there’s no way she can actually know for sure. Everyone is looking for litmus tests to be able to trust someone: Annalise even enlists her old boyfriend to find out if her husband’s alibi checks out, and when the boyfriend reports that it does (falsely, for some reason), she’s so happy she wants to sleep with him again. Okay, sometimes this show makes me confused.
But confused in a good way, confused as in “I’m trying to figure out where this is going” or “Now, that’s a twist I didn’t see coming” or “I’m enjoying myself.” The Case Of The Week, the weakest part of this show’s second episode, bounces back this week thanks to the star power of Jason Gedrick, totally believable as a kind of radical cult leader, with his lost love Ana Ortiz. The interns are sad that they’re getting pulled in on a boring soccer mom sex case, when it turns out the mom is a former terrorist, to the complete surprise of her husband and kids. Props to the show for pulling out the Patty Hearst “Tania” defense and for achieving a kind of triple cross: Sure, Jason Gedrick was probably just going turn on his old girlfriend, but I was not expecting her to be in on that deception. She had public sex in the park knowing she’d get picked up and her fingerprints would expose her, ultimately leading to his early release and her escape. Well done, and it was also a relief not to have Annalise and Associates win every single case they’re involved in, because some of these get kind of outlandish.
Like switching from defending Griffin to Rebecca in the Lila murder trail. There’s a great scene of four ladies in the car, all with their own romantic issues. But only the soccer mom expresses them aloud, how buzzed she is after seeing her old paramour, while the other three must ruminate silently about their possibly gay fiancées or possibly murderous husbands, or their crush on their boss’s spouse. No one has it easy, and no one is straightforward about anything. But soccer mom is so hyped up on what doing something that was important felt like, it makes Annalise more pliable when Gibbins tries to convince her to defend poor defenseless drug dealer Rebecca. What possibly in Rebecca’s manner could be making Gibbins such a fan? And is she guilty of the murder they’re covering up two months later?
So it’s interesting that whatever the hell else that’s going on on bonfire night—and those selfies the episode is named for are pretty funny—Michaela’s downfall is losing her ring, her massive, gorgeous ring, symbolizing what could actually be her life’s downfall anyway: Her marriage to Aiden. Annalise tells her to choose carefully, and now Michaela’s trust in her fiancée has been shattered. It’s an extremely difficult thing to rebuild.
The rest of bonfire night and the ties to Lila’s murder remain clunky and obtuse, but that’s okay too, because if there wasn’t much to figure out, what would keep dragging us along for the season? Sam Keating’s murder elevates this show past the case-of-the-week procedurals pile: We have plenty of those, even if this is an above-average one. But four young law students burning a body? Hey, let’s see how this plays out. After all, as Michaela points out to her fiancee right after she throws a book at him: There are murderers everywhere.
- Love the transformation of ’60s radicals to ’90s protestors against corporate greed. And you know in these fictionalized bomb plots, it’s always an innocent janitor who gets it. He wasn’t even supposed to be there that night!
- I look forward to other in-depth intern explorations: Who knows what Connor does with the few hours each day when he’s not having sex with people?
- Patty Hearst had her sentence commuted by President Carter and was eventually pardoned by President Clinton, and married her bodyguard.
- My fashion-challenged self had to look up what “bespoke” Vera Wang meant.
- Speaking of confusing: Two Orange Is The New Black cast members in a jail-type setting.
- Can not get on board with Frank. He’s just too skeevy: I’m not sure what bugs more, his beard or his vest. Possibly his too-wide Windsor knot. But I’m loving lawyer Paris Gellar with her blonde bob and dark lipstick.
- Many in the comments are pointing to the possibility that Aiden is bisexual. I agree that it’s odd that the show didn’t appear to consider that option, and Michaela didn’t ask about it.
- Many thanks to Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya for letting me sit in this week: This show is by far my favorite Shondaland production this season, probably ever.