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HTGAWM Makes Room for a Baby in “What Happened to You, Annalise?”

By on February 12, 2016
How to Get Away With Murder

Viola Davis as Professor Annalise Keating. Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC

By Chelsea A. Hensley

Maybe it’s ABC’s growing penchant for long breaks in the midseason, but I forgot about How to Get Away With Murder.

Not its big twists and turns, and not Viola Davis, but the tiny bits. It takes some time to jog my memory about the finer parts of the show, like Michaela’s relationship with Caleb or whatever Catherine Hapstall was doing with Phillip Jessup. “What Happened to You, Annalise?” is an episode very concerned with recapping, which is only to be expected of a midseason premiere.

As irksome as the repetitive nature of some of the flashbacks, it’s not so annoying when you’ve forgotten the smaller details. There’s a lot of standing still in the first episode back, but it makes sense when we’re supposed to be seeing Annalise Keating brought low by her shooting. Two weeks later she’s drastically altered, and trying to maintain their lie while being physically and mentally weakened.

About That Baby…

HTGAWM has had several WTF moments in its short time on the air but none so eyebrow raising as a baby shoved into a horrified Annalise’s arms. For a moment it seems like the beginnings of another wild case of the week, until Bonnie takes the bundle in her arms and lets the blankets fall away to reveal it’s nothing at all. It’s an immediate and strong indicator of Annalise’s vulnerability. We already know much has changed now that she’s on painkillers and confined to the first level of her house, but conjuring up an imaginary child is a different matter altogether.

We’re supposed to assume the baby is Christophe/Wes, especially after confirming it was Wes’ mother, Rose (Kelsey Scott) who passed him off to her. But when we flash back ten years earlier, Annalise is hugely pregnant and meets Rose on the playground while Christophe/Wes plays. And Annalise, off her medication, sees the baby once again, but she’s gone from horror and exasperation to joy. Is this her baby? And if it is, what happened to the child Annalise was carrying?

Annalise and Wes’ relationship has been altered by his shooting her, but what we’d expect to seemingly drive them apart has brought them even closer. Annalise is afraid of Wes when he demands answers about her and his mother, and he’s surprised (for some reason) at her fear. After spending the entire episode asking about Wes’ status, Annalise isn’t prepared when the two come face to face. She’s afraid and makes him leave, only changing her mind after he’s left. And once he’s gone, there’s that baby.

After a season of mostly being a tiring addition, Wes finally has something more stimulating to focus his attention on, and it makes all the difference. The Christophe story is immediately more interesting than that of Rebecca, who’s almost entirely dropped. She’s the reason Wes shoots Annalise, but Annalise’s utterance of “Christophe” is why he stops there. Besides one mention of Rebecca with Laurel, he doesn’t ask Annalise whether or not she was telling the truth about Rebecca’s fate. He asks her what she knows about his mother. Alfred Enoch finally has more to do with himself than hop around taking part in a tepid investigation (and the facial hair doesn’t hurt), and he and Viola Davis share a great scene after remaining separated for the entire episode.

With the relationship between Annalise and Wes being so central last season, it’s finally feeling that way again.  Nate asks Annalise what “happened” to her, and she doesn’t give him an answer. But it’s Wes who’s “happened” to Annalise, both in the past and in the present. Whatever transpired with Rose and Christophe led them both to this point, and now Annalise is struggling to find solid ground after the shooting. She says Wes ruined her, and it’s not entirely clear if she means by shooting her or entering her life in the first place. It could be a bit of both.


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