How To Get Away With Murder

How To Get Away With Murder’s titular lines tend to come in the penultimate or final acts of the episode. All of the episode titles are quotes that capture the most significant plot point, but the best ones also manage to capture the emotional core of the episode. “Go Cry Somewhere Else” is one such title. This time, the line is delivered very early on. And Laurel’s exclamation at Wes’ memorial really is the emotional core of the episode.

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Michaela, Laurel, Connor, Asher, and even Oliver now have all confronted murder. They’ve all been accessories to murder, and some of them (ahem, Asher) are actual murderers. And then in addition to the murders they encounter in their everyday lives, back when they used to actually do the whole school thing, these kiddos were bombarded with the vicious details of a new murder or two every single week. (Good riddance to those cases of the week though. They so rarely worked.) But Wes’ death is different. This time, one of their own was murdered. They no longer have the luxury of detachment. These aren’t hypothetical situations Annalise is quizzing them on. Their goal isn’t to find out what happened so that they can protect a client and do their jobs as lawyers in training. We’ve seen the gang prep plenty of clients to be questioned by the police or take the stand, but it’s different now that it’s Oliver under interrogation. It’s personal this time. Wes’ death is real, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

And Laurel spends the whole episode reminding everyone of that. She underscores the horrors of this reality: Wes was murdered, his body was burned, and then his body was “misplaced.” She’s not listing the details of some new case they’re taking on; she’s listing the reasons she is falling apart. She’s listing all the ways in which Wes was wronged, all the ways in which this is totally fucked up. She reminds everyone that this isn’t about them. It’s about Wes. Karla Souza gives a heartrending performance throughout the episode. At the memorial, Laurel loses it, overcome with anger and frustration. Later, when requesting to see Wes’ body, she’s eerily measured, calm on the surface but vibrating just beneath, about to shatter like glass. Souza plays those contrasting extremes magnificently. She commands the screen as fiercely as Viola Davis so often does. It’s easy to sing the praises of Davis, but all season, Souza, Liza Weil, and Aja Naomi King have been holding their own, too.

Speaking of King, Laurel and Michaela’s friendship is also at the emotional core of the episode. I’ve said this many times before, but because so many of the relationships on How To Get Away With Murder end up poisoned by deception, manipulation, and power politics, the few relationships that remain somewhat pure and loving shine brightly. Connor and Oliver were once that beacon, though they continue to be on the more messed up side lately, with Oliver taking up lying and other Murder Club practices a little too well. Michaela and Laurel, lately, have taken up that torch. Their relationship is certainly complicated, but it can be beautifully simple at times, too. Here, Michaela takes care of Laurel. And while she’s looking out for Laurel and protecting her, she’s still doing it in her own Michaela way. She’s gentle but blunt, and she doesn’t lose her boastful bravado either. “I’m good at everything I do,” she snaps at Laurel’s sassy remarks at how good she is at mothering her.

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Davis continues to portray Annalise’s incarceration arc with depth and conviction. While Annalise began to unravel and turn inward last week, tonight she’s totally undone. Borderline catatonic, she can barely meet the gaze of other characters. She drags her feet and slumps her way through her repetitive days. Bonnie keeps promising she’s going to get her out, and Annalise would just rather she shut up. And then her mother Ophelia shows up, and Annalise learns that on top of everything else, her mother is showing the early signs of dementia. Cicely Tyson is, of course, remarkable in her return. Any time Tyson and Davis get to play off one another on the show, everything else (plot holes included!) just sort of fades for a moment as they become the center of the universe. In the end, when Annalise lies to Ophelia to make her believe the charges against her have been dropped, it’s another gutting scene. This is how dire things have gotten on How To Get Away With Murder. Their brief moment of happiness together is ultimately empty. It isn’t real.

When Annalise reconnects with her mother, the show also delves back into Annalise’s history of abuse. It’s a small part of the episode, but it’s nonetheless powerful and meaningful. Annalise confronts the man who long ago ignored her when she said her uncle was sexually abusing her. Too often, sexual assault is framed as something that one can heal from, as something that survivors will one day overcome completely. But the healing process is never really done. Sexual assault doesn’t just wound; it fractures a person’s soul. And for the most part, How To Get Away With Murder is smart and nuanced in its portrayal of that kind of pain. Annalise points out that it wouldn’t be fair to assume that what happened to her when she was young has nothing to do with what’s happening to her now. As always, How To Get Away With Murder is great at working a huge idea into a short scene.

Too bad How To Get Away With Murder is still drowning in convoluted plotting, because the episode really does have its moments! But zoom out even the slightest bit, and the story’s foundation looks shoddy as hell. Now Nate’s also being framed? Or does he actually have something to do with Wes’ murder after all? But he lacks motive. Frank and Bonnie had motives, but they also seem like obvious answers. I’m perplexed, to say the least.

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And I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, even when it comes to a show as wild and extra as How To Get Away With Murder, but what if Wes isn’t dead after all? When bodies go missing, a faked death is certainly on the table. It’s not a twist that I want by any means, because it would undo all the brilliant work the show has been doing in terms of grieving and loss in the wake of his death. And it would just be cheap. But we’re not really getting any closer to solving Wes’ murder, and the more information we do get, the harder it is to make sense of anything. “Go Cry Somewhere Else” really leans into there being a far-reaching conspiracy afoot at the DA’s office, but that’s such a broad notion. Plus, the DA office wanting to take Annalise down just seems so boring and insignificant. No one at the DA’s office is a fleshed out enough character for us to really be involved in why they might have it out for Annalise. The conspiracy against Annalise should be more personal, closer to home. How To Get Away With Murder is still digging itself out of a tricky narrative hole, and the lack of a coherent plot diminishes some of the great character work the show is doing right now.

Stray observations

  • Asher quite literally pours one out for Wes…right onto Oliver’s floor. His idiocy knows no bounds.
  • Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry is a very good actor. The casting on this show is solid all the way down to the smallest of characters.
  • So Wes and Nate had some sort of conversation shortly before he died. That’s definitely supposed to be a big reveal, but I still don’t find Nate to be all that compelling, so the moment didn’t really hit for me.
  • I’m more intrigued by the fact that Wes dialed some unknown emergency contact on his way to Annalise’s house.
  • Am I the only person lowkey hoping Bonnie did it?

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