By Chelsea Hensley
“Something Bad Happened” is…well, it’s an episode of How to Get Away With Murder, which means it has some intriguing implications here and there and a twist that makes one excitedly tweet a series of question marks.
But the road there is the narrative equivalent of a corn field, and the destination?
Also disappointing. This Phillip Is Back and Stalking Us storyline gets more tedious every minute, and even the flashbacks may have officially worn out their welcome.
There’s only one episode left until the season finale and the more twists we’re promised the less significant they feel.
For Once, Everything Is At It Seems
Last week’s episode implied Wes killed his mother in a dramatic beat that was likely untrue but was still fun. Wes having that killer instinct all along? I’d have taken it. Anything to make Wes more appealing. His earlier charm has been pretty much tapped out, and now all he’s got is his uncanny ability to make his moping (which should be totally acceptable) totally unacceptable. But no, Wes didn’t murder Rose, and though “Something” implies the contrary, neither did Annalise. In fact, the episode is all too quick to answer last week’s question, pose a new one and answer that one, too. Granted it would have been annoying to see a story dragged out longer than necessary just to reach a conclusion we’d already been led away from. Rose did commit suicide, but even with her fear of the Mahoney patriarch and drive to protect her son, there’s nothing there we didn’t already know.
With Rose’s death I’m not sure what kind of place the flashbacks have in the narrative anymore. A few bits this week implied something darker going on with the Mahoneys, but the Mahoney patriarch’s casual racism and general awfulness don’t make him any more interesting, and I don’t want to see us Annalise trying to figure him out ten years ago.
Just because the mystery seems mostly finished, doesn’t mean the flashbacks have lost their power. There’s a well of opportunity (like Annalise’s unborn son) in the characters. Eve finally turns up in the past as Rose’s immigration lawyer. Rocking a superb high pony, she pays Annalise a favor by helping her coerce Rose into testifying. I’ll always love HTGAWM more when it actually works with the characters it has, and it hasn’t yet let me down when it comes to Annalise and Eve. Even in flashbacks it remains devoted to unraveling their relationship. Intermingled with love and hate, with a dash of resentment, Eve and Annalise are consistently complicated and always interesting to watch. Their argument about their failed relationship, which has Annalise announcing she’s not gay and just wanted someone to love her, is eventually set aside as Eve assures Annalise she’ll be a great mom. There’s enough story with the two of them to form their own show, and HTGAWM tells their story so steadily that I’m not sure why it can’t extend that into other areas.
Eve’s appearance in the flashbacks immediately promises things are going to pick up speed, though I wasn’t sure just how quickly they’d go. I’ve never seen fit to complain about HTGAWM’s small episode order, but maybe I should have. With the season coming to an end soon, I’m not so sure what these past few episodes—or even the whole season—have really accomplished, and I wish we’d had more time to spend with it so its effect would feel more like something. This feeling is even more pronounced when watching events of the present day, where Phillip has everyone in a tizzy.