‘TWAS THE PUPPY! ‘TWAS THE PUPPY WHO MURDERED THE TEACHER’S DOUCHEBAG HUSBAND TO SAVE HIS DRUG DEALER GIRLFRIEND!
It’s a classic line, almost Dickensian in its prose, and now it’s a true fact that we’ll never be able to forget, no matter how many Quaaludes we take in our efforts: Wes Gibbins, the soft-spoken, plaid-clad, ex-Gryffindor giraffe from Ohio, has murdered Sam Keating, the broad-shouldered meathead who made Annalise paranoid and Bonnie horny and Michaela frightened and Laurel Laurel and probably turned Alive Girl Lila into Dead Girl Lila thanks to a combination of biceps and anger issues (although the jury’s still out on that last damning bit).
Yes, Wes killed Sam. He’s the killer. But only after Michaela fake-killed him by pushing him over the staircase. Still, Wes’ bludgeon-via-trophy sealed the fatal deal… and Annalise knows it.
“Don’t be.” It’s the new “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” is it not?
So, you want a recap of tonight’s unbelievably nail-biting episode? The only way through is chronologically, because there was no ridiculous case of the week to throw us off balance with thematic resonance or a fancy guest star from the early ’00s. No, tonight’s midseason finale was almost 98 percent told in a timely fashion, and that’s how I’m going to tell you the story. Catch your breath, take a Tylenol, and come with me on a narrative journey of murderers and murderesses, rugs and drugs, hook-ups and prenups, and wang of both the Keating and Vera varieties.
We begin with a bonfire.
SAM AND ANNALISE are fighting, and in the realm of Keating Family Feuds (not hosted by Steve Harvey), this is a doozy. If you recall, Annalise has just told Sam that she called the cops and it’s only a matter of time before they DNA test him and link him to Lila’s pregnancy. So Annalise is packing a suitcase, ready to ditch her husband, and Sam sticks to his same old story—”I only lied because I was afraid you’d think I killed her!” It’s the, what, fifth time we’ve heard him say it? Episode 1-6 Annalise might have believed him, but Episode 7-9 Annalise is definitely over it all.
“I’m done saving your ass!” she proclaims while packing multiple blouses and her favorite pashmina. “I’m done believing in you! I’m done loving you!” She tells him about her affair with Nate, how he can make her scream and groan and sweat (and do the same to network censors), and it sends Sam into a mad fury. “I think of Lila every time I try to get off with you!” he shouts, and then he starts choking his wife, just like he probably choked Dead Girl Lila on the roof of her sorority house after she told him she was preggo with his Eggo.
With his hands around Annalise’s neck, Sam is terrifying—and rude. “You’re nothing but a piece of ass,” he calls HIS WIFE. “That’s how foul you are, you disgusting slut.” (Coincidentally, this is also what I say to myself after a heavy night of Taco Bell.) And if we didn’t already know Sam was dead, these barbs would surely be cause for us to wish he was dead, after insulting Queen V in such base terms. Annalise begs, “Kill me, kill me, kill me,” but he lets go because she’s a series regular and she storms out of the house while he storms his way into the kitchen for a drink (possibly a Yoo-hoo, but more than likely something alcoholic).
Sam’s in the kitchen, boozing away the last five minutes, when Michaela arrives with the trophy of Lady Justice, which she wants to turn in to Annalise so she can get out of Monday’s exam. Remember, it’s like 10 or 11 p.m. on a Friday night at this point, so you can understand why Sam tries to kick her out, but Michaela sits on the couch, adamant that she is not taking this test (which, let’s be real, she’s only unprepared for because of all the time she wastes at Annalise’s). And then…
ENTER REBECCA. And cue my first “Oh my God” of the night.
Michaela notices that Rebecca has entered the house, and Sam wheels around to discover his sworn enemy at the foot of the staircase. “Why are you both here?” Sam asks in a moment so tense, it needs shiatsu. And Rebecca pauses and stares at Sam, and then Michaela. “Call Wes.” And Rebecca RUNS upstairs, heading straight for Sam’s bedroom, and Sam chases after her, and what transpires is a heart-pounding phone call as Michaela watches from the staircase and gives a play-by-play to Wes, who is already en route to the Keating house with Connor and Laurel in Connor’s car.
It takes just a brief commercial break for Rebecca to lock herself in Sam’s bedroom and download his files (what I like to call GIVD, or Generic Incriminating Villain Data) as Sam stands outside pounding down the door. Suddenly, ENTER WES, LAUREL, AND CONNOR, who have arrived to join Michaela as they confront Sam during his Hulk rage. “Let her go, and we’ll leave,” Wes coolly reasons, and for a moment, Sam breathes and agrees to not do anything. Through the door, Wes asks Rebecca to build a snowman to come out, and with GIVD on the USB, she does…
…and Sam tackles her! And Wes, for that matter. They fall to the floor as Sam attempts to wrench the USB drive from Wes and Rebecca’s hands, and the GIVD goes soaring. In the shuffle, Sam commits his greatest crime of all—hitting Jack Falahee in the face—and Laurel grabs the thumb drive and makes a run for it. But Sam goes after her, and in an effort to protect Laurel, Michaela pushes Sam… who goes flying off the staircase, knocking his head on the bannister as he cascades down to the hallway, where he lands with a grotesque thud, crumpled and crinkled like last week’s game of MASH.
Phew. So they think Sam’s dead.
And as the kids all go into the living room, their next conversation illustrates an important point in the way they’re going to handle the murder. Connor is insistent on going to the police, blaming the murder on Michaela and Laurel and absolving himself of any blame, but Laurel insists, “It doesn’t matter what any of us did. We were all here, which means we’re all at fault.” (Although, that’s definitely not true.) Even Michaela and Wes agree, “He’s dead because of all of us!” (And yet, again, Connor didn’t do anything.) So it’s important to remember that Michaela and Laurel both believe in the collective blame thing, because they can’t reneg once SAM COMES BACK ALIVE.
Suddenly he’s choking Rebecca, and choking Rebecca, and choking Rebecca, and then BLOOD SPLATTER. Everyone is shocked. Rebecca is soaked. And Wes is holding the golden trophy, having just delivered a swift blow of justice to the back of Sam’s skull.
Aaaaaand NOW he’s dead. Timeline = converged. Sam = concaved.
NEXT: “Don’t be.”