Momentum. Momentum is everything when telling a serialized story over the course of a season of television. It’s exponentially as important when telling two season long stories. How To Get Away With Murder garnered a lot of momentum for one murder (in the last two minutes, but still..) and once again stalled on another (I think they’re saving Sam Keating for the next season at this point). Of course, both of these most important stories took a backseat to yet another COTW (case of the week) that, I’m assuming, is laying the seeds for bigger payoff down the stretch.
A teenage boy was on trial for killing his abusive policeman father. Against police prejudice, Keating and her crew had to get a jury on the side of their client who was technically guilty. The main point being made was that sometimes you can get acquitted by a jury even if you’re guilty. Nullification, it’s called. All you need to do is manipulate them into believing your client broke the law for the best reasons. Vote with your heart. Emotional manipulation will get a jury on your side regardless of whether they should lawfully convict or not…This could benefit any number of suspects in the murders of Lila Stanguard and Sam Keating. Potentially. Way later from now.
Laurel was the Keating Gang member who got the spotlight this week. She went toe to toe with Keating in the classroom (“Someone woke up in the mood to fight this morning.”). We discovered she had slept with Frank and then cut things off with him. We skipped ahead to Sam Keating’s body dump and saw her step up to return the murder weapon back to Annalise’ office while Michaela was having a nervous breakdown over a lost engagement ring. Jumping back to the COTW, we saw Frank discover Laurel tampered with the COTW jury and Annalise got him to tip off the DA. This got Annalise a mistrial that would lead to a convenient set of circumstances freeing her underage client from criminal prosecution. A win by any name…Fast forward again, we saw Laurel deliver the Sam Keating murder weapon to Frank in a desperate plea for help. We now know that Laurel, Connor (he goes to Oliver), and Wes (going to Rebecca) are all keeping parts of the body dumping process secret from the rest of the Keating Gang.
Meanwhile, the other trial we got was Annalise representing Sam in the murder of Lila Stanguard. Unofficially, for now. First, she needed to get all of the facts she could about his affair. His alibi was revealed to be a lie by Nate (an act of payback on his part for getting kicked off the force by way of convenient plot device that need not be discussed in depth). Then, Annalise had Sam interview Rebecca about Lila to try and uncover whether Rebecca let on to the police in her confession of Sam’s affair.
Annalise was satisfied, seemingly, that Rebecca didn’t know. And she didn’t. That was until the last two minutes of the episode when Rebecca told Wes to check the wallpaper in the Keating’s bedroom. Here’s a tip: never send a picture of your penis to a girl you’re having an affair with from your own bedroom which can then be identified from said picture. That is NOT how you get away with murder! Anyway, Rebecca thus discovered Sam’s affair with Lila and led Wes to discover the truth, who confronted Annalisse about it in this week’s cliffhanger.
Viola Davis continues to be the shining light in an otherwise choppy cast. Her transition from scene to scene is seamless and the most organic of any of the actors. Of course, it helps that her story is being told chronologically, so you have the room to properly build in the layers of her character with her performance. Her gang doesn’t get that luxury and it’s hurting their characterization. There are nice moments from each actor here and there, but the editing isn’t helping these characters get a sense of consistency. Some of the gang feel very disposable at this point (Looking at you, Asher!). Perhaps some of them will be fodder by season’s end.
Once again, this week’s episode had very little actual movement on the Sam Keating murder and the movement on Lila Stanguard’s came in bursts. Most of those felt forced and unearned. They were “gotcha” moments that didn’t carry any of the weight from Annalise’s discovery of Sam’s affair last week. Still, we’re getting closer to the point where one murder will lead to another. In the meantime, the COTW took up a lot of time and tried to lay more groundwork for a payoff we won’t see until the midseason break and/or the season finale. How To Get Away With Murder rolls on, hoping you’re onboard enough now to accept leaps in logic and increase your suspension of disbelief.
-SEX SCENES: 0 homosexual, 1 heterosexual (and lets face it, it felt like the show was trying to meet a quota. There wasn’t a whole lot driving it).
-I hope that wasn’t Nate’s sendoff. It felt rushed and unearned. Billy Brown was a great presence on this show, a wild card, and added a sense of urgency to the web the writers are weaving. Maybe Nate will drop back in again later on when they have something for him.
-Is it me or does Frank and Laurel have about as much chemistry as The Doctor and Clara? Did not buy their moment of passion. It really does feel like Laurel and Frank are going to sleep together because it’s a convention in the genre.
-These COTW’s are taking up a lot of valuable screen time. I’ve harped on it enough in previous recaps so I won’t become too much of a broken record. Cut the time in half, get to the thematic lesson, and earn these revelations about Lila Stanguard’s murder. Or, TV gods forbid, Sam’s murder.
-How long did Rebecca stare at Sam’s penis photo in order to be able to identify wallpaper after being “emotionally strip search(ed)”?
-It was definitely not insignificant that Annalise revealed she broke up Sam’s first marriage due to an affair they had. This couple’s carrying more baggage than they first let on.
Check out previous How To Get Away With Murder recaps here.