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'How to Get Away with Murder' season finale recap

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Mitchell Haaseth/ABC

How to Get Away With Murder

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Viola Davis, Alfred Enoch
Crime, Drama, Mystery

Friends, I know not where to begin.

This ride we have ridden, this journey we have journeyed, this hellish corpse-laden voyage we have embarked on the good ship #TGITanic, has come to a close, and the top of this murder Matterhorn is one thoroughly jaw-dropping two-hour finale that teases your mind just as swiftly as it blows it.

The two-part installment was a doozy, between the Rebecca Hostage Crisis, Nate’s prison sentence from hell, a very enigmatic priest who may or may not even like being a priest, the big bombshell revelations about who killed Lila and why Rudy went crazy, and a gut-punch to the best romantic relationship on television. Sure, we’ll never find out what grades the kids got in Annalise’s class, but there’s enough to make up for it.

Here’s how this recap—my last one!—is going to play out. To jump right to the timeline of the Night of the Water Tank Sorority Girl, go to page three. For those shocking developments about Michaela’s ring, Asher’s snack-attack, and Connor’s STD test, hit page four. That’s where you’ll also find the case-of-the-week breakdown, plus the Big Questions you should be thinking about over summer.

But for now, it’s time to dive in to the present day, which finds Wes becoming the man he was always kind of sort of maybe destined to almost potentially be.


Two things defined the first hour of tonight’s two-part finale: Annalise’s case involving a priest who killed another priest, and Wes’s dangerous dance with Rebecca after HE found out she lied about Rudy and SHE found out he was snooping in the psych ward.

For now, let’s start with Wes and Laurel, who are in a tailspin about whether to confront Rebecca with their newfound knowledge that she was behind Rudy’s committal to the psych ward—and that Rudy said “wet” when shown her picture.

Wes, in his blind obedience to Rebecca’s good qualities (which, as far as I can tell, include self-piercings and drug mixing and not much else), thinks that maybe she’ll come around and explain the truth, but Laurel, pragmatic as she’s been since the Night of the Flying Cheerleader, insists that Wes stay quiet. Rebecca could easily take them all down for Sam’s murder, especially since she was the only one who didn’t get rid of the body. Wes mulls telling Annalise, but again, Laurel discourages it, opining how Annalise would feel knowing that her husband was killed for nothing. (Prediction: Not great.)

What the Wes-Laurel Wonder Twins (whose powers activate whenever he wears plaid or she changes boyfriends) don’t know is that Rebecca has been tracking Wes’ phone and knows he lied to her about his whereabouts as he went digging around Rudy’s psych ward. And so the two embark on a delicate tango, making love ON A LITERAL BED OF LIES as neither admits to knowing about the other’s dirty, potentially eruptive secret. It’s just like Mr. and Mrs. Smith except instead of two secret agents, it’s a dumbass law student and his trashy girlfriend. (Sorry for being rude, but we wouldn’t be in this situation if Wes wasn’t so gullible and Rebecca wasn’t so awful.)

With both lovers playing confession chicken, Wes continues to secretly dig up Rebecca’s old testimonies, searching for proof to catch her in a lie. He even tries replicating the timeline of the walk from Griffin’s fraternity house to Lila’s sorority house, all of which builds Laurel’s case that Wes is going full crazy. Laurel insists that Wes needs to at least answer the phone when Rebecca calls, in order to stave off suspicion; when she does call, Rebecca gives Wes one last opportunity to hang out before she heads into the campus police station for God knows what kind of shenanigans (well, we do actually know—in hour two).

Unaware that Rebecca’s moving the pieces on her own monochromatic board of Death Eater chess, Wes and Laurel are having the same argument for probably the fourth time when Michaela and Connor finally overhear them bickering. Wes reveals everything—his doubts about Rebecca, his theories about Lila, his birthday wish list (spoiler: more plaid). And without even a second of hesitation, Michaela—who has had it up to HERE with the bullshit of this high-maintenance homicidal social circle—takes control of the situation like Tracy Flick at a Staples. “Where is she?” Michaela demands, and Wes decides he wants to protect Rebecca just a little bit but nope, they’re way past that. “NO,” yells Michaela. “WHERE THE HELL IS SHE?”

Moments later, they’re all waiting at Rebecca’s (or is it Wes’? Do they live together? Do I care anymore?) apartment in search of a once-and-for-all style answer. When Rebecca arrives, Connor, Michaela, and Laurel all take their turns ripping Rebecca’s story apart like tender pulled pork, with Wes sitting in silence like a very tall sweet potato. Rebecca doesn’t indulge their demands, incredulous that they don’t trust her, and at one point, Michaela even slaps Rebecca with both a point-blank question (and a mean backhand): “Tell us the damn truth, Rebecca. Did you or did you not kill Lila?”

And what happens next makes me furious. “I found the campus cop,” says Rebecca with a sickening grin on her face like she just took all the red Starburst and left you with only yellows. She’s talking about the campus cop who spotted Murder, Inc. on their way out of the Keating house on the Night of the Flying Cheerleader, when Michaela pretended to call Annalise and Connor’s car was haphazardly parked outside. Rebecca reveals that the cop was fired after Sam disappeared, which was no doubt the handiwork of Annalise and Frank, and now the cop lives in Delaware. “Don’t make me call him,” Rebecca threatens. And the look on the faces of Murder, Inc. is enough to get them to call their last resort.

Next thing we know, there’s a knock on the door—it’s Annalise, who’s been summoned over to the apartment. She finds Connor, Laurel, Michaela, and Wes looking guilty about something. “What the hell’s going on?” she asks, and her honor roll students direct her toward the bathroom…

…where Rebecca is bound and gagged. Which, I’m not going to lie, is the greatest pre-birthday gift I can ever ask for.



Rebecca’s tied up in the bathroom, and everyone’s talking over one another trying to explain to Annalise how the hell this nightmare happened. Wes hits it home: “Sam might’ve been innocent.” As the only adult voice of reason, Annalise goes into the bathroom to calmly talk to Rebecca, but when she removes the duct tape covering her mouth, Rebecca promptly shrieks (and viewers across the country yell “Oh hell no” to their TVs for the first but definitely not last time this episode).

Annalise’s first move is a smart one: She moves Rebecca to the Keating office, where she’ll be far away from any nosy neighbors or tenants with basic hearing functions. But even there, once Rebecca is bound and tied (God only knows how they transported her), nobody has any idea what to do next. Not even Frank. He desperately calls Bonnie, who’s busy being serviced “in the snack-attack department” by Asher.

Annalise decides that, since they’re not monsters who tie people up, the best thing they can do is give Rebecca her day in court, and so she gets a full mock trial where the Murder, Inc. kids put their skills to use in trying to prove both Rebecca’s potential innocence and guilt. The result: not good. As it turns out, they’re woefully unprepared and lacking in evidence to indict Rebecca. It’s a shame they’re not enrolled in a law school somewhere where they could learn the necessary techniques in a healthy and controlled academic environment.

The failed living room trial is briefly interrupted twice—first, by the new prosecutor on Nate Lahey’s case, who Annalise handles with the best fake smile in the world, and second, by Asher, whose forced entrance in the house (demanding a conversation with Frank about what he knows about his Bonnie courtship) causes everyone to relocate Rebecca to the basement.

In the shuffle, Rebecca grabs Michaela’s phone and texts an unknown number: “Eggs 911. Lawyer’s house.” Great. Now Michaela’s phone is involved, as is an unknown number (belonging to who? We’ve only ever seen Rebecca interact with four people—Wes, Griffin, Sam, and Lila—and so far the friendship retention rate is buh-leak). After her act of disobedience, Frank decides it’s high time to tie Rebecca up again. He sends everyone upstairs, suggesting that he might do something very thrilling and violenty and Franky, but as it turns out, he literally just ties her up. Oh.

Annalise tries to crack Rebecca through empathy, but Rebecca gives Annalise another snarky non-response, so Annalise marches upstairs to Wes and explodes: “I’m done making you feel okay while you sit around here and mope. Be a man and go and get your girlfriend to talk.”

And so we arrive at the final conversation between Wes and Rebecca. “Look at me,” she pleads. “Look at what you did to me. You said you loved me.” Wes begs her to just tell the truth about Lila so that he can rectify the situation and restore her to that god-awfully high pedestal he put her on at the peak of their relationship. Finally, Rebecca cracks—confessing that she gave Rudy a very toxic dose of a drug called Purple X after he caught her, drenched, the night of Lila’s murder. It was enough to have him committed, and discredit his being the only witness to Rebecca’s argument with Lila and subsequent trip to waterworld.

The story is this: Rebecca went onto the roof to find Lila, and when she did find her—dead in the water tank—she was on drugs, panicking, not thinking, and when other girls arrived on the roof, she hid in the water tank. Wes relays this tale to the group, making one last plea about how he believes her, but Murder, Inc. is not entirely on board with the latest narrative in Rebecca Lies: A Collection of Short Stories (a picture book, available this summer from Hachette).

Michaela has a plan: She wants to pin Sam’s murder on Rebecca. If Sam killed Lila, that’s why Rebecca killed Sam. Connor’s on board, saying they’ll all fudge their testimony to make sure Rebecca is found guilty. But Annalise decides enough is enough, and they need to drop the case and let Rebecca go. They haven’t proven guilt beyond reasonable doubt. She’s “going to try to ask her nicely,” once more, to confess.

And so Annalise goes downstairs, where she “discovers” that someone has untied Rebecca and let her escape from the house. For a second, it looks like Wes let her go in a moment of characteristically misguided passion, but when Annalise asks him about it later, he swears it wasn’t him. And so she holds a crying Wes, comforting him, promising him that Sam killed Lila because it’s the version of the truth that will make the most sense for them to both move forward with their lives.

But Rebecca didn’t run away.

Instead, Rebecca is bloody and hidden behind the stairs, her corpse having finally caught up to that sullen, hollow look of her body. She’s dead, and Frank and Annalise are the only two who know about it. “Was it you?” Annalise asks Frank.

“No, Annalise, you know I’m not that guy. Besides, I thought it was you.”

“Because I’m that guy? Of course not.”

“Now what?”

Um, WHAT!? EXCUSE ME? And now I have to bring us to PART THREE of the finale, because we’re on the subject of Frank and he, oh, just happened to commit the murder that launched this entire chain of events. Super casual, right?


Here it is, gang. The timeline of The Night Lila Died, from start to finish, for your un-confused pleasure.


5:32 PM

Rudy’s chilling, doing some homework in his unwallpapered YET UNSCRATCHED apartment, when he overhears a fight next door. It’s Rebecca and Lila, and the latter is trying to get out of the drug game. Lila wants to get back together with Griffin, and she blames “everything bad that’s happened to me” on meeting Rebecca (and, you know, becoming a drug dealer). For one thing, Lila is utterly insane, pretending to be crying one moment and yelling the next. She’s vicious in her takedown of her former friend: “You were just a way to escape my stupid life for a little while. I was bored and confused, but I’m done acting like some trashed out druggie whore. That may be fine for you, but my parents raised me better.”

Rebecca kicks Lila out, and as they take their fight into the stairwell, Rudy definitely notices the noise.


An angry Lila calls Sam, who’s in the parking lot at Yale. “I tried to fix it, have sex with Griffin, so he’d think the baby is his, but he wouldn’t,” Lila explains. “He just kept talking about God.” Sam tries to stave off Lila’s paranoia, but she demands to see him now, because she is utterly unhinged and wearing a heinous salmon sweater.


Sam calls Annalise, not revealing that he’s on the way home from New Haven to see Lila.

At the same time, Lila arrives on the doorstep where she’s intercepted by Bonnie. She reveals the pregnancy, but Bonnie scares her off the porch and back out into the shadows.


Rebecca goes to Griffin’s house to sell/do some drugs. “Does Lila know you’re here?” he asks. “I was kind of a jerk earlier.” In fact, he mentions how erratic Lila’s behavior has been all summer. Griffin leans back, showing a body borne solely from not attending class, and Rebecca devises a plan. She seductively asks Griffin for a tour of the frat house.

Once she’s up in his room, she asks Griffin for a glass of water and in his absence she uses his phone to text Lila to come over. Griffin returns, and they go at it like a Bratz Doll on He-Man.


Thirty minutes later and they’re still assembling the IKEA couch that is their bodies, when suddenly Lila arrives, having received Griffin’s text. Rebecca’s eyes shimmer: “You still think he’s worth it?” So it wasn’t a selfish move, so much as it was a plan to let Lila see the error of her man ways. But Lila doesn’t exactly see it that way, launching at “stupid slut” Rebecca and clawing at Griffin when he pulls her away. (Truth: Everything Griffin said in his testimony has been a fact.)


Sam calls Lila. He’s outside the coffee shop where Lila wanted to meet, but she’s not there; instead, she’s on the roof of the sorority house, talking ominously about suicide. Sam says he’ll come see Lila. She hangs up when she hears Griffin on the rooftop looking for her, but she quickly hides on top of the water tank.


Sam arrives to see Lila, and he professes his love for her. “I love you. I know that now. It’s just taken me a while to accept it. But Annalise and I, we’ve been over for years now. I haven’t felt this way in a long time, and I don’t ever want to not feel this way again. It’s you, Lila. I love you.” They kiss. Sam pulls away, claiming he needs to end his marriage with Annalise right now. Lila lets him leave.

Sam immediately makes a call from a pay phone. “I need you to do what we talked about. You owe me.”


Frank arrives on the rooftop and strangles Lila, then tosses her body in the tank.


It’s more than an hour and a half after her sexy dalliance before Rebecca arrives at the sorority house, passing by a basketball player eyewitness who would later testifying to seeing her. Rebecca is calling an unresponsive Lila, leaving an apologetic voicemail, and frantically searching for her to explain her well-meaning if horribly executed plan. With no response from Lila, Rebecca enters the house.


Rebecca looks for Lila, finds her phone (after it’s vibrating from a call by an unknown number), and climbs up to discover her body in the water tank. Immediately after, a group of sorority girls take their white wine to the roof, and Rebecca hides in the water tank with her dead ex-best friend.


A soaking wet Rebecca arrives at her apartment, where Rudy asks whether she—and Lila—are okay. Rebecca impulsively asks, “Do you feel like hanging out?” and Rudy inexplicably smokes with her for the first time, because nothing says “Let’s try doing drugs right here, tonight, at 3 a.m.” like a strange wet girl.

Shortly after, Rudy is bloodily scratching the walls with his fingernails and Rebecca’s calling the police, frightened of what Rudy might know and think and say. So she has him committed, and she continues on with the life we know—fighting with Griffin, meeting Wes, and becoming ensconced in the proceedings of Murder, Inc. up until this very moment in her life.

And that’s how Lila Stangard and Rebecca Sutter died.


Here’s where we stand on everything else that went on in the two-hour episode:


After Nate is initially denied bail, Annalise enlists Frank to get some prison thugs to beat up Nate, thinking he’ll be released—but instead, he’s just sent to solitary. So she works some lawyer magic (involving Asher as an unwitting pawn) to get him assigned a new judge who posts his bail and frees him. When Nate’s outside, Annalise approaches him, promising that she’ll take care of the situation, but Nate—now battered and bruised—doesn’t trust her. (As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you; get me arrested and tried for murder, shame on me.) He comes around, though, and calls the phone number Annalise gave him at the police station, insisting he fire his lawyer and hire this mysterious stranger. I smell an intriguing new series regular-and/or-recurring player!

Then there’s the new prosecutor, who’s looking into Annalise’s involvement with Nate and drudges up a new story from Annalise about a physical altercation between Nate and Sam (that, we know, never existed). When the prosecutor arrives with questions at Asher’s house at the end of the episode, we know there’s some bad news coming next season for whatever Asher does or doesn’t have to say about the whole bonfire affair.


How about the night’s most heart-wrenching moment? I wish I could have devoted more time to this important plot point, but alas, it’ll have to exist here. Connor and Oliver, eager to take the next step in their relationship reconstruction, have decided to get tested for STDs, particularly because of Connor’s sexual proclivity and fake drug problem. Connor freaks out about the possible results, but he’s relieved to find out that he’s clean… except Oliver, in a gut-punch of devastating proportions, reveals that his test results came back positive, and he has HIV. It’s a stomach-churning moment of realism and sadness that somehow, in just 10 seconds, turned a goofy, silly murder show into something so much more important.


Born again after her rage-filled tirade against Rebecca, Michaela is taking no prisoners, accepting a lunch offer with Aiden’s mother (who she once tried to #TheSlap). Michaela assumes Mrs. Walker wants the engagement ring back, but it turns out, she just wants Michaela to come home and marry Aiden after all. But nope, not happening, because Michaela knows that Mrs. Walker knows that Aiden’s gay, and she refuses to be a pencil case for that pack of Crayolas. She walks out, and arguably, the Michaela Wedding That May Or May Not Be Imminent is now no more.

Speaking of that ring, Michaela is getting drunk after Rebecca’s vanishing, and she assumes it’s the last night of her life. Laurel shows up at the bar and pushes the ring her way. “I found it in Connor’s car as soon as you said you’d lost it. You were a disaster that night. I could tell you wanted to go to the police, but I knew if you knew they could find it, you’d stay quiet.” Wow. It was a brilliant if devious move from Laurel, and she certainly sat on that knowledge for perhaps a bit too long. How will Michaela react? Will she ever trust Laurel again, or am I making a much bigger deal of it than I should be?


Things are heating up in this weird, weird relationship, and now Frank knows about it. And yet, despite the number of female students Frank has slept with, he seems to lord the intel over Bonnie like the last pearl necklace at a Nordstrom Rack. Asher is keen on making sure Frank doesn’t tell Annalise, which wouldn’t even be the worst thing in the world, but it seems to be his top priority. You know, after killing people.


Annalise defended Father Crawford, a handsome priest who confessed to killing not-so-handsome Father Bernard in the church (with another metallic gold object, which, ahh, brings me back to a happier time). Crawford claims that he had to kill Bernard after Bernard confessed to molesting an altar boy (and friend of Crawford’s) who then killed himself, but Crawford won’t break the sacramental seal and reveal Bernard’s crime in court. It’s the testimony of a churchgoer named Agnes who tries to fake an alibi for her lover Crawford that ultimately cracks him, causing him to change his plea to guilty and accept the crime for his sin.


Annalise called on a student named Ms. Leibowitz.


  • Ah, so we’ve reached the end of the recap. We know how Lila died. We mostly know about how Rebecca died (except for the tiny matter of who killed her). Here’s the list of things to keep in mind as the season hiatus takes us over:
  • Who killed Rebecca? (And do they get a trophy?)
  • Why did Frank owe Sam a favor? And why was that favor murder?
  • Who the hell is Frank anyway?
  • Who did Rebecca text from Michaela’s phone? What does EGGS 911 mean? And how does Rebecca know a phone number by heart in 2015?
  • What will Asher be asked about Sam’s murder, and will Annalise bring him into the fold before he says too much?
  • Who is the mysterious stranger Nate called, on Annalise’s recommendation?
  • Are Rudy’s fingernails okay? I’m legitimately concerned.
  • Is Bonnie hiding anything? Sure, I’m wrong in my theory that she killed Lila in a jealous rage, but I’m still not convinced that her hands are completely clean.
  • How will Laurel’s confession affect her relationship with Michaela? And will Laurel ever find out that she’s kind of loving on a hit man?
  • Will we ever see the Flying Cheerleader again?!?

How about some theories, too? Season two will of course explore all those questions, primarily focused on finding out who killed Rebecca and, yet again, how they’ll all get away with it. Will Murder, Inc. be okay with adding another dead body to their growing toll? And what of Sam’s murder investigation? They haven’t actually gotten away with murder yet, and now they’ve got a second body to contend with. Plus, now that they’re all murderers themselves, is Frank’s Lila kill even a big deal?

And that’s about it. Sure, there are plenty of other things to discuss, including but not limited to your theorized answers to those big questions, and I’ll leave those to you in the comments. But for now, that’s all for this season of How to Get Away with Murder. Gosh, it’s been fun, talking homicide and Humpr with you all. Get at me on Twitter over the summer, and you can bet that I’ll be back next season (if you’ll have me) to usher us through a second installment. Farewell, murderers!

Once more, with feeling: #OhMyGAWM.