By Chelsea Hensley
“Hello Raskolnikov” is a fitting return for How to Get Away With Murder. Within minutes we’ve got Annalise (with new hair) caressing Wes’ face and chest and making us all wonder if that’s supposed to be sexual or maternal, and this show just isn’t complete without wondering what the hell Annalise thinks about Wes. Or what Annalise thinks about anything. Near the episode’s end, Annalise stands in a bathroom stall, trying to keep herself together, as two women talk about heartless she must be, how she’s not a person like them. It’s not true of course, but Annalise is one of those people who’s perfected the art of keeping up appearances. She can be stern, cold, domineering, or vulnerable whenever she feels it’s necessary, and with the police questioning everyone about Sam’s disappearance, it’s very necessary that she keep herself under control, even while she’s grappling with the consequences like everyone else.
But she’s much better at hiding it. In front of the police she’s appropriately somber but still calm, and she immediately latches onto proving Sam to be Lila’s killer with a ferocity that leaves people questioning her humanity. She lets some cracks show with Wes, as she tells him that she knows she’s the most obvious suspect, and as he pleads with her to tell the others that she knows what they did. And the night of the murder she’s shaken but certain about what needs to be done, telling Wes step by step what he needs to do. But when she’s alone, she’s heartbroken and contemplative, and after reminding Wes not to tell anyone about what happened, she’s the one who gives in and tells Frank. Why she does that is beyond me, but I suppose it has something to do with Frank seeming very eager to help and genuinely concerned in that moment. Annalise may be a lot of things, but she’s not without a heart.
Wes is the same way. They’re keeping it together much better than the others are, though their unraveling is much more subdued. Wes struggles with keeping Annalise’s involvement from Rebecca and the others, and it’s only when Laurel tells him Michaela and Connor are going to the police that he breaks down with Annalise, saying he can’t do it anymore. His and Annalise’s scenes are some of the best, like usual, the two of them confiding only in each other, and though there’s always the chance Annalise is manipulating him as she does everyone else, it’s obvious she has a real fondness for Wes. It’s a simple, and as complex, as her smiling to herself when he comes up with a good idea and agreeing to talk to Connor and Michaela because he tearfully asks her to.
On the other hand, Connor and Michaela are not keeping it together. Michaela tries, but she freaks out when the police ask about Connor’s SUV at the driveway, and Connor wants to go to the police from the start. Neither he nor Michaela broke into the house (that was Rebecca) or made the killing blow (that was Wes) so they can maybe wiggle out of this. It’s only natural that someone come up with this particular idea, despite how crappy it may be for their partners in crime. They’re desperate to have their lives back, even if it means selling out the others. The only thing that stays their hand is Laurel’s promise to frame whoever it is who gives them up, until they think they’ve got her on their side.
It’s always the quiet ones they tell you, and Wes and Laurel have already proven themselves way more cutthroat than Connor and Michaela. Wes is relatively subdued this time around, following Annalise’s directions and sticking to his story, so calm even Rebecca asks him how that’s possible. He tells everyone else to do the same, but it’s Laurel who pushes things. After promising Connor to set him up if he ratted on them, she bolsters the image of Sam as a lecherous, cheating husband in her police interview and tells them how he looked at her “in a sexual way”. Finally, she tells Wes about Michaela and Connor, and Annalise’s promise that she can help them get away with it keeps them from going to the police.
The murder adds an interesting new element to the dynamics of the Keating Five. Asher of course is left out in the cold, though I’d wager he’ll get suspicious sooner or later, knowing about Connor’s car being parked at the house. Laurel and Wes are still close and getting closer, as Laurel makes sure he and Rebecca don’t get blamed. Connor and Michaela have at least that one moment of deciding to go to the police as well as Connor comforting Michaela about her relationship maybe being over after Aiden learns the truth. And now all of them are in this with Annalise, who’s kept some pretty substantial barriers between herself and her students, Wes being the only one who’s been allowed that kind of access.
Like other episodes before it, the courtroom scenes are the weakest element. As fun Annalise is in court, the scenes themselves never rise to the occasion. Instead everyone looks kind of stupid in comparison to her, which makes this whole thing seem a bit too easy, even while we’re being told how hard it is. It’s not hard to believe that Annalise is brilliant, but how can we see how brilliant she is when she keeps going up against such blah foes like Wendy Parks?
The courtroom at least benefits from being connected to the main arc instead of in a case of the week, slowly proving that Sam was the one who killed Lila. If there are any questions about Sams’ guilt, they seem pretty definitively buried as he’s proven to be the father of Lila’s unborn baby and GPS reveals that he was at the sorority house. The charges against Rebecca being dropped doesn’t feel as triumphant as it should, but at least we’re moving on. And with everyone’s cards (mostly) on the table, we can get to the really fun stuff of actually seeing them try to get away with murder.
- So Laurel being part of Sam’s murder is obviously worse on the moral scale than Frank having a long-distance girlfriend he neglected to mention, but I mean…Laurel just doesn’t think Frank would make a good boyfriend and those are And if thinks she sucks for being part of Sam’s murder then he obviously doesn’t want to date her either so what’s the problem?
- Michaela’s quick on her feet when it comes to the lying. First outside of Annalise’s house and then when the police ask why Connor’s car was parked there that night.
- So Marcia Gay Harding is Sam’s sister, and apparently she’s going to be a problem.