The McRib. Christmas toy commercials. A good role for Johnny Depp. Rare are these occurrences throughout the year, but welcome they are all the same, and tonight, a new item joins the list of curious oddities: a How to Get Away with Murder without flashbacks.
Yes, a 99 percent chronological episode served as the latest installment of No Honestly I Really Don’t Know If They’re Going to Get Away With This Murder, which is what I’ve decided to affectionately title the second half of season one. NHIRDKITGTGAWTM, for short.
And don’t you agree? Nothing is safe. Evidence is being revealed left and right. The only thing more frightening than Murder, Inc. being discovered is the idea that we still don’t know who killed Lila. Was it Sam? Or was his death in vain? Either way, it doesn’t matter now, since his charred riblets have been found.
The episode begins, and Murder, Inc. is watching the news report in Wes’ awful beige apartment; they are collectively trying to keep their tear ducts intact as the well-blazered anchorwoman basically delivers the worst news they could possibly hear: that Sam’s body has been found in a nearby landfill. It’s not a fun landfill like in Wall-E or a slightly less fun landfill like in Toy Story 3—in fact, it’s not even animated at all.
Connor is the first to call shenanigans. “You don’t just find body parts in a landfill,” he reasons, “not unless you’re told where to look.” Once again, his finger points to Annalise, but this time, the usually programmable Michaela isn’t so sure she agrees. In fact, nobody knows how or why their buried (well, not really) secret has so quickly been discovered. They contemplate calling Annalise for their next move, but Laurel arrives at gametime with some bad news from Frank—everything from here on out is under police microscope. Their calls. Their texts. Connor’s Humpr profile. They’re under the magnifying glass from now on, meaning that the one person who said she’d protect them is the one person they can’t dare ask for help.
That’s because Annalise is dealing with her own in-house microscope, and its name is Hannah, who has hurricaned into Annalise’s home like the Kool-Aid Man’s pissed-off wife. The moment the cops arrive at the house to deliver the news, Hannah beats them to the punch and asks, point blank, “Is he dead?” as if she’s been expecting it all along. It’s a question so loaded it ought to be on a KFC menu. The cops nod, saying they tested the tissue against Sam’s DNA—which was already on file for the Lila murder, thankyouverymuchAnnalise—and confirmed it was his corpse.
And ohhhh, Hannah is mad. “DON’T TOUCH ME!” she shrieks to Annalise, who tries to comfort her. Suddenly, Hannah is going full Katniss-at-the-Capitol, screaming her head off at her new enemy: “Arrest her! She killed him! Arrest her!” It’s the theory she’s been sitting on, and Sam’s now-dead body confirms it—Annalise most definitely killed her husband. A vengeful Hannah is now on a warpath to take Annalise down, and not even an outlet mall sale on business-casual blouses will keep her from uncovering the truth about her sister-in-law. Hannah’s first move: insisting that the cops search Annalise’s house. And much like Beyonce’s first lyric in “Crazy in Love”… uh oh.
So, yeah, things are pretty bleak for Annalise. Her husband is dead, the cops are looking right at her, and her drunken holiday hotel binge feels like a far-removed dream. She’s called Nate and warned him not to talk to anyone, but she can’t avoid Detective Bryce—the poised policewoman whose most prominent form of cardio comes from skeptically raising one single eyebrow. Bryce has already posted up outside Annalise’s classroom, waiting to interrogate, but AK-47 (Viola Davis is actually 49) breezes past, because she’s not under arrest yet and doesn’t have to talk. Instead, she’s got a class to teach, and the substitute teacher has already screwed it up by calling on a non-series regular.
The lesson of the class is about how staying quiet in a case can mean the difference between a guilty and innocent verdict, and if that not-so-subtle connection to Annalise’s status quo wasn’t clear, the case of the week finds Annalise defending a notable mob boss whose drug shipment was busted after a shady tip from a fed. Leo Lombardo has retained Annalise for 15 years, but even he’s skeptical to keep her on his payroll. And yet Annalise’s insistence that Leo not fire her is key to understanding her current state: Her practice is taking a nosedive thanks to the media circus around her husband, and clinging on to her work is distracting herself from the Nightmare After Christmas that is her current life.
And so she toils away, working with the Keating Five to defend this “businessman” who everyone knows is a mob boss but nobody acknowledges because there is literally nothing less important to them than working on this case. Connor can barely focus on it, relying instead on Michaela, Laurel, and Asher to do the heavy lifting as the CASE-OF-THE-WEEK MONTAGE makes its much-welcome return.
Wes is proving wildly unhelpful because he’s too busy falling further into his research spiral about Rudy the serial scratcher, whose mental breakdown is becoming more and more possible for the nightmare-plagued Wes. He decides to ask his landlord, who informs Wes that Rudy was carted away by the police one night—at Rebecca’s phone call! Whoa, babe! Way to not mention anything for like four months! Furious, Wes confronts her, and she confesses that she never thought it was important to bring up. Rudy was banging on the walls and screaming, so she called the cops. Tale as old as time, right? And once again, Rebecca finds a way to bring Wes down from the ledge, even though he’s still determined to find out Rudy’s story, but can’t because Rebecca forces them to cuddle together like nothing is wrong. UGH. A curse on Rebecca and all her flannel shirts and whoever keeps giving her, like, four cornrows.
Meanwhile, back at the Keating House of Horrors, Bonnie is devastated. She just found out that Sam is dead… and nobody called her! You can hate Bonnie for her perfect bangs or wool-polyester blends, but you can’t help but feel horrible for her that nobody even thought to fill her in that Sam Keating—her boss’s husband, among other things—is dead. (I still believe that Bonnie secretly vents her anger weekly in a fight club underneath a Denny’s.) Bonnie notices that Frank isn’t shocked by the Sam death news, though, and it’s this suspicion that launches her on to investigate Sam’s murder on her own terms. But Bonnie is also called on to fulfill her duties as Annalise’s right-hand counsel, and since it’s the first time Annalise has asked her to do something since their great break-up, Bonnie tries to deliver.
The cops retrieve a search warrant for Annalise’s house, and so Bonnie goes to court to try and traverse the warrant, but a character-doubting testimony from Hannah—about a bizarre three-year-old fight she once witnessed between Annalise and Sam—causes Bonnie to lose the fight. Thus, another nightmare occurs: The cops descend on Annalise’s house to dust every corner, leaving no encyclopedia or fancy pillow unturned. If you thought the case-of-the-week techno montages were stressful, they are nothing compared to the POLICE-POSSIBLY-FINDING-INCRIMINATING-EVIDENCE TECHNO MONTAGE. And yet, despite my heart palpitations and Annalise’s Gloria Swanson-esque purview from the staircase, the police find nothing. No smeared blood, no bump in the doorjamb, no residue of Michaela’s tears pooling around the corner where she cried and cried. Annalise has scrubbed the entirety of the house and gotten rid of all traces of usable evidence—and that’s how you get away with murder. (Just kidding, they’re all still screwed.)
The one thing the police do find is the set of the scales missing from the trophy of Lady Justice. The discovery seems inconsequential to the cops, but it opens up a whole new world for Bonnie and she rides that magic carpet of knowledge all the way to Frank, whom she caught exchanging a fearful look toward Annalise during the inspection. Bonnie tosses Sam’s medical report in Frank’s face and lays out all the facts she knows: Sam was killed with a blunt object. His body was found with carpet fibers and debris from the woods. Bonnie’s smart enough to know when Frank is lying, and she’s confident that something bigger happened that neither Frank nor Annalise will admit. Someone call Summer Sanders because Bonnie has figured it out!
NEXT: Connor goes mano a mano with Annalise