This show continues to utilize a COTW (case of the week) to its format. One must assume that they will end up serving the greater season long murders we care most about. Presumably, the lessons the Keating Five are learning could be used for their cover up of Sam’s body. Watching Annalise manipulate witnesses, evidence, and the court could foreshadow aspects of the trials for Lila and Sam’s murders once suspects are arrested. They’ve been used mostly to build the dynamic between Annalise, her associates, and her students. However, are they doing their job? We probably won’t know for sure until How To Get Away With Murder pulls the trigger on the bigger stories.
This week’s COTW was about an emergency hearing for an appeal to prove a man’s innocence of a murder he was convicted of on circumstantial evidence. “A death row case” as Annalisse bluntly put it. It was probably the most compelling COTW yet because it required actual character development from one of the Keating Five and put Annalise under a pressure cooker where she was forced to deal with Wes’ leverage about Sam and Lila’s affair and this noble passion project all at the same time.
The COTW provided a spotlight on Asher. Up until this point he’s definitely felt like the most underdeveloped of the Keating Five (and that’s saying something). Until this week he’s always been presented as a one note stereotypical d-bag. In an earlier episode we were promised that each of the Keating Five were meant to seem like one thing but that many layers would be revealed to their characters. Annalise promised us this and thus the show promised us this. Each week we’ve been shown each character’s secrets that they’ve been keeping from each other regarding the night of Sam Keating’s murder. This week, we saw actual character development rather than plot development.
It wasn’t the most original story. As Annalise remarked to Asher, “You think that you’re the first person to be disappointed by your father?” It turns out that Asher’s dad, the judge who presided over the original trial for the COTW, suppressed an accusation that one of the key witnesses perjured themselves to get a conviction, and then was promoted for taking that inaction. Asher’s confrontation with his father was a pretty powerful scene. It was well acted. Not very well written but well acted. The dialogue throughout this episode was a heavier-handed than usual. With one exception: “Because when I filed the petition I didn’t know you were screwing some white whore.”
Once again the murders that matter were put on the backburner until the final minutes. Well, Sam’s wasn’t addressed at all until the very, very last minute. All that we had learned up to those last few seconds had been that Asher had nothing to do with the murder but the murder weapon was supposed to be in his possession at the time. It went missing. He had a series of near misses with the rest of the Keating Five but, apparently, had no part in Sam’s murder or cover up. Now, the first scene where he came to the office and almost caught them with the body was fine. Them nearly hitting him with their getaway car a little while later and him not happenning to look at who’s driving, that’s beyond even this recapper’s suspension of disbelief. I liked Connor’s line about its ridiculousness, because it was, I just can’t see yet why it was necessary to the storytelling. The other big revelation was saved for the very last second: Annalise called Bonnie accusing her of sleeping with Sam. Which she wasn’t because she was sleeping with Asher. Oh, and Annalise was in her office and discovering “something terrible” had happened. Thus, we have our first nugget suggesting that Annalise didn’t kill Sam.
Meanwhile, the Lila Stanguard murder got a break in the case when Griffon was arrested with a new motive: He’s believed to killed Lila because she broke their virginity pact and was sleeping with another man (Sam!). Of course, this new “evidence” was planted by Frank. Who got busted planting it by Nate. And around and around we go! Annalise has now put the Lila investigation on course to discover the affair between Lila and Sam. Not to worry though, Annalise changed the wallpaper, so it’s going to be tough for the police to make the same leap in logic Rebecca and Wes made last week. As long as no one else knows what his penis looks like, Sam should be in the clear. But where’s the fun of watching this show if Sam, or anyone, is in the clear?
-I briefly mention it in the recap but it was great to see Nate back in the mix. His exit felt underwhelming considering how integral he’d been in the first few episodes. It’s nice to see he’s still working hard on Annalise and Sam.
-Keating Five! The gang finally got a proper name.
-Despite Asher’s ridiculous request to keep his father’s name out of the proceedings, it’ll come up with the new trial, won’t it?
-Viola Davis had two “star” scenes this week. One was the final COTW court scene where she shot for the fences by trying to bully a state senator into confessing he was responsible for the murder. Melodramatic but isn’t everything about this show? Her thundering was great. The Keating Five’s awe was so unsubtle that it undercut the power of the performance, quite frankly. The audience saw how awesome it was, it didn’t need all of the characters to make that comment. Drop the mic and walk away, HTGAWM. The second scene was the more powerful, IMHO, where she told Sam that she’s fighting so hard to protect him because she needs him. I don’t know if I believe her but I want to. And that’s the juiciest place to be right now.
-SEX SCENES: 0. Did we do something wrong and now we can’t get dessert?
Check out previous How To Get Away With Murder recaps here.