SEX. Everyone’s doing it! It’s the hot new craze sweeping Middleton University, hipper than jukeboxes and hula hoops and whatever drugs kids are doing in college these days. Everybody’s talking about “sex,” and it’s even managed to rule the conversation at the offices of Keating & Associates. Now, HTGAWM has always been a risqué show, but the season’s third episode was a blush-inducing, highly combustive swirl of penises and vaginae that made season 1 look like The Wiggles.
Sibcest! Orgasms! Annalise picking out sexy dresses! Sex was on everyone’s minds this week, and not just because of the case-of-the-week’s client in peril: a holistic sex worker who founded her own sex party-throwing clinic, only to be put on trial when one of her clients has a heart attack mid-coitus. She’s on trial for murder by vagina, as Annalise puts it, and it’s quickly discovered that she actually did kill her client. But Annalise pins it on the dead man’s jealous wife and gets Tanya (played by The Fosters’ Sherri Saum) off. Tanya, of course, is horrified; Annalise is pretty chill with it.
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But the court case wasn’t even where the steamy heat was most centrally located this week. Essentially, everyone under the Keating roof decided that they’d been thirsty long enough this season, and they’re not about to wait ’til sweeps to get their kicks. There’s Connor and Oliver, hakuna-ing each others’ matatas now that Connor’s PrEP treatment is clear and they have permission to bang. There’s jejune Michaela and sneaky Levi, grazing anatomies while Michaela remains unaware that Levi is — shock! — Rebecca’s secret foster brother. Asher’s making booty calls to Bonnie, Frank’s busting Laurel’s balls and teasing out what we know is an inevitable hook-up, and Annalise is doing her best to keep own personal concupiscent predilections off the long list of problems she’s facing.
THE STRANGE DESCENT OF ANNALISE KEATING
First, a sigh of relief that Annalise can focus on one case this week, instead of pulling double duty defending herself and having time to throw shade at the siblings last time.
It’s seven weeks before the night of her stomach shooting, and Annalise boozily floats around her wooden manse, treading its lonely halls at twilight with the spectral air of a drunk British orphan exploring a haunted house via candelabra. She slurs notes into a memo recorder. She dictates directions to give Bonnie and Frank later, putting her bossiness on time delay until after her liver clears up. She checks her e-mail — ex-lover Eve wants to know where she got her sheets, and Groupon wants to tell her about scaring up savings for Halloween — and best of all, she scours the kitchen for food, edaciously leaping between cookie and ice cream with carefree disregard. Basically, Annalise is drunk, and she’s just trying to live her best life, and lord knows you can’t do that with water and quinoa.
She wakes up to a sound and tracks it to the basement, where she finds not a babadook but a mouse. She calls Wes — her second choice after Frank didn’t pick up her phone — and he comes to save the vermin, which happens to be captured in the same spot Rebecca’s dead body was once bound. Ignore for a second that Annalise could hear a rat in the basement from all the way up in her bedroom; as it turns out, the sound she heard was Asher, stealing her recorder on blackmail orders from ADA Sinclair.
So no, Annalise is not crazy, but what’s preoccupying her? Is she waiting for the axe to fall when she’s called back to court for her own inevitable arrest? Is she missing Eve, snugly sitting in New York, or Sam, snugly sitting in eight landfills spread out across the Philadelphia area? Does she pine for Nate? Is she concerned about Wes? Does she have papers to grade from the classroom where she sometimes writes large words in chalk? The most obvious answer is: All of it is toppling down onto Annalise, and the question is not why she’s descending, but how far she’ll go. Even more troubling is whether there’s any good news that would actually lift her out of this depression later on. I’ll go out on a limb and say that, for at least the next seven weeks, nothing’s really going her way.
THE NATE OF THE FANCY MANSION
Two scenes were added to the flashforward timeline, and they both involved Nate. We glimpse the four kids of Murder, Inc. fleeing the mansion, once again running past the bloody body of ADA Sinclair crumpled beneath the balcony outside. Inside, Annalise lies bleeding, barely breathing, eyelashes spastically fluttering like a bad GIF. Her phone buzzes — it’s Nate, but she doesn’t necessarily know that (or does she?). She stretches a bloody hand for the cell, but it goes to voicemail before she can reach it.
On the other end of the line, we see Nate speeding along, pleading for Annalise to pick up. So, Nate knows something’s wrong, which explains why he arrives just in time to see Murder, Inc. try to hide on the side of the road. He pulls over and gets out — in his cop uniform, no less — and impels the kids, “What the hell are you doing? Get in the car, now!”
(WES + NATE) x EGGS ÷ ANNALISE
So. Let’s talk about Nate for a second. Whereas I once thought he might be just another dead body that would pile up in Annalise’s fun house of linens and corpses and things, he’s right there in the thick of it on the night of the shooting. Seven weeks earlier, he hasn’t exactly forgiven Annalise for using and framing him, but she’s begun to make amends by blackmailing the police chief into giving Nate his job back — you know, the usual way people say sorry.
Based on circumstance, we can deduce that Nate’s not the gunman, but could Annalise’s fate on the Night of the Fancy Mansion have something to do with the plan Nate hatched with Wes at the end of the episode? They’re both on a road to discovering some dark truths about Annalise, and vengeance could be a likely option.
Or, is Annalise lying on the floor because of the other plan Wes hatched this week with Rebecca’s foster brother, Levi? Levi is indeed the recipient of the “EGGS 911” text, but it turns out Eggs is actually Rebecca’s nickname (she dropped a carton of eggs once, arguably the most interesting thing she’s ever done). The text she sent to Levi from Michaela’s phone alerted him that she was in immediate trouble at the lawyer’s house, hence Levi’s eventual arrival to investigate her disappearance. Once Levi meets Wes and they establish that they’re both looking for the same truth, the two set a joint target on digging into Annalise (while also allowing Levi to continue hocusing Michaela’s pocus in the interim).
So, again: Does Annalise’s injury come at the hand of Nate? Wes? Levi? Or is her indigestion-by-bullet because of the increasingly dirty laundry she’s folding for the Hapstall siblings — who, by the way, have transcended suspicion and are now definitely the most incestuous thing on television since the Lannisters on that one game show.
NEXT: Told ya![pagebreak]
Annalise spends the episode trying to settle on a motivation for why the Hapstall siblings would kill their parents. Inheritance is one option, but the outsider theory — that Caleb and Catherine felt unloved and resentful of their adoptive guardians — is a more likely thesis for the prosecution to adopt. An unnecessary public wrench gets thrown after a tabloid magazine prints a photo of the Hapstall siblings engaging in a very intimate kiss-caress, under the giant Impact headline: SIBCEST. The twins deny any such romance; Caleb, increasingly peeved by Annalise’s constant doubt in his story, threatens to find another lawyer if she doesn’t start believing everything he says.
Annalise employs Frank to do some dirty work and he finds that the photo was leaked by the family’s housekeeper, Miss Guthrie, who told Bonnie and Asher last week that she “won’t lie for them.” Her tone is no different this time. “They’re guilty, Ms. Keating,” she declares unequivocally, and suddenly Annalise has a third motive to entertain: If their parents discovered the Hapstalls’ incestuous relationship, they’d be removed from the will and lose billions. But remember, everything Annalise is planning for the siblings is also going right into the hands of ADA Sinclair, thanks to a sneaky traitor in a sweater vest.
(I HAVE NO IDEA) WHAT YOU DID AT TROTTER LAKE
Asher continues to be a point of interest this year, spying on Annalise but trying in vain to pull away from his role as mole for ADA Sinclair. She’s got something big on him — something to do with a girl named Tiffany and a place called Trotter Lake. It’s a large enough secret that he can’t tell Bonnie, who has noticed that his tardiness and preoccupation with his phone. She suspects it’s another girl, and Asher doesn’t deny it; in the moment, he chooses to blow up his entire relationship with Bonnie than tell her what happened at Trotter Lake. So yeah, it’s big. Asher eventually seeks his father’s help, claiming he’s in trouble and it’s all to do with Tiffany. (Sister? Sorority girl? Strange lake girl in an unfortunate jet-ski accident?)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
This week, it’s not so much that I loved a particularly memorable quote as I relished an unexpected scene: Bonnie and Laurel hit the bar together to dish about Frank, and it’s a quirky pairing that we’ve only seen through an antagonistic lens. Knowing that Laurel’s the smartest of the Keating Five, Bonnie’s relieved that she can come clean about seeing Asher, but despite Laurel’s interrogation, Bonnie won’t betray Frank’s past secrets. (It’s likely he probably knows hers, too.) Since I need to quote something, let’s just say that Bonnie saying “You minx!” is the episodic highlight. (However, in advance of commenter clamor, I realize that Annalise’s response to Tanya’s horrified “How do you sleep at night?” is probably the night’s best line: “Alone. On very comfortable sheets. I like expensive bottles of vodka.”)
THEORY OF THE WEEK
Two commenter theories to hit you guys with this week:
Commenter AB says: “I think that Murder Inc + Annalise were in the incest twins’ house to talk to them about their case and that Sinclair followed them there. One of the twins shot Annalise while talking to her alone and saw Sinclair while fleeing and killed her to cover their tracks. Murder Inc was most likely not in the room and when they saw the ADA dead figured they needed to run because they’ve collectively proven that they can’t make smart choices around corpses.” [Solid culprit, and A+ sass game. But where would the twins be while the kids were tending to Annalise’s wound?]
Commenter Goiahawks says: “Annalise made Asst DA Sinclair look pretty incompetent and unprofessional during Nate’s trial. Now that she’s assigned to the Hapstall case…maybe Annalise gets the best of her again and keeps making her look foolish, gets her disbarred even. Annalise and Murder Inc would all be at the mansion celebrating their victory for getting the twins acquitted and Sinclair acts out revenge on Annalise and is the one to shoot her. When she runs from the house though, she trips down the stairs and cracks her head open…her death is an accident.” [Love the creativity that moronic Sinclair offed herself, but HTGAWM wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a dead body without someone responsible for it!]
And with that, I’ve climaxed for this week — all together a much stronger episode than last’s week double-trial hour. Get at me on Twitter with your best theories (or just to share your memories of the flying cheerleader) until then!