Annalise Protects the Murder Quad in HTGAWM’s “She’s A Murderer” 

By Chelsea Hensley

How to Get Away with Murder isn’t the best at constructing its episode. Even the arcs aren’t as fun and shocking as they could be these days (and nothing’s ever going to live up to “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?”). People noticing the missing carpet, Michaela’s missing wedding ring inevitably being found someday, the disappearing scales being located…it’s all stuff that we could have seen coming before. There’s no suspense in the week to week cases, which are boring enough already, with Annalise’s clients always coming out on the other side and her getting to show off her legal chops against cartoonish and awful opposing counsel. But where the show falters in making its episodic storylines really leap off the screen, it excels with its characters.

Annalise especially. She’s the “she” in a “She’s A Murderer,” at least if you ask Hannah and just about everybody else. Annalise isn’t a bad suspect by any means. She is the most obvious one, which is why all eyes are on her after Sam’s remains are identified. Hannah, her clients, and perfect strangers all wonder if she’s responsible for Sam’s death, and as usual, the problem is how Annalise emotes. Or rather, that she doesn’t. She’s cool and calm, even cold, following the discovery of Sam’s body compared to Hannah’s breathless grief.

Marcia Gay Harden is a very welcome addition to the show, able to keep up with Viola Davis, and a more worthy adversary for Annalise than any of the legal opponents we’ve come across this season. When the police show up to notify Annalise, Hannah immediately announces that Annalise is the killer, a swift change from their tepid alliance at the end of last week. Hannah’s obviously never liked Annalise, not with the ease with which she recalls a fight between Sam and Annalise three years ago that obviously proves that Annalise is a violent killer.

Needless to say, the odds are greatly stacked against Annalise. She’s the one people are looking at, and even though her involvement in Sam’s death is slight compared to that of the Murder Quad, it’s enough that she’s definitely not innocent. If she wanted to, she could sell them down the river with ease, a fact that has the Quad in a frenzy. “She’s A Murderer” has them all but fading into the background in favor of Annalise’s legal problems, with Hannah pushing the police to search the house while Annalise takes her own advice and avoids the police as much as possible.

There seems to be little reason for Annalise to even protect the Murder Quad as she is, which even Bonnie realizes is likely a mistake. Bonnie’s a much more interesting character these days, alternately weepy and chilly depending on where you catch her. Frank finds her sobbing, blaming herself for what’s happened and just as suspicious of Annalise as everyone else, but once she pulls herself together she’s snooping around and asking questions about Annalise that night. But her final act this episode raises the question of what she would have done if the evidence pointed in Annalise’s direction? The missing rug, disappearing scales and Connor’s car in the driveway lead her to what is actually pretty obvious: that the Murder Quad killed Sam, but judging by Bonnie’s response to this knowledge, she would have been just as eager to hide it as Frank.

Bonnie suggests Annalise cut her losses and let the Murder Quad take the fall for what they did rather than risk it destroying Annalise’s life. It’s not the most pleasant option, but then again they did kill him, and Annalise could easily solve her problems by just telling the truth. But she promised them her help, reassuring Connor once again this episode as he continues to freak out about her potentially betraying them. While Annalise has seemed to spare her soft spot for Wes alone, it’s all of them she thinks about it as she decides whether or not to take Bonnie’s advice.

At this point it’s the grownups who are shaping up to be more interesting, this episode making the Keating Five look more like dopey schoolchildren than ever before. They’re unraveling of course, but all their scenes are just so boring. Wes is obsessed with finding out what happened to former tenant Rudy (who cares?) and he and Rebecca are even fighting about it (but really who cares?), Connor and Michaela have the same conversation over and over again about not trusting anyone (been there, done that), Laurel avoids Frank then sees him out for help coping (whatever), and Asher just does what he usually does (nothing much).

If the Quad’s total helplessness is supposed to sell Annalise giving up her sidepiece, then that works. Annalise wants to help, she really does, it’s just that her helping ends up hurting somebody. And that someone is Nate, whose fingerprint she and Frank plant on Sam’s wedding band and dump in the woods for the cops to find, leading to his arrest. It doesn’t even fully clear Annalise, not with people (like Hannah) going to assume that Nate killed Sam because she wanted him to, but it at least begins closing the door on the investigation and saving the Murder Quad. But it leaves Nate in limbo, likely going to prison for something he didn’t do (and Annalise is probably not going to represent him…or is she? Who knows), and it leaves Annalise teary and asking for her mother.


Stray Observations

  • Inappropriate places the Murder Quad discusses Sam’s murde: some dude’s office, surrounded by police outside Annalise’s house, in Annalise’s living room and outside Annalise’s office
  • I call the Murder Quad a quad because I don’t know if Rebecca counts. She was there, sure, but she’s such a non-entity now that she’s not on trial that she doesn’t seem to be worth counting. If the Rudy mystery is the show’s way of getting her back into things, it should definitely rethink that strategy.
  • The news is very liberal with information about Sam’s murder.
  • I used to care what happened to Rudy but now I just…don’t.
  • So Bonnie is definitely in love with Annalise right? Right?