Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet to FIGURE OUT WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS SEASON ON HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.
Yes, I’m back (and let’s give a warm thanks to my Bonnie, Justin Kirkland, for filling in for two weeks in my stead). You’ll have to excuse my absence, as I was off in rural Pennsylvania burying the bodies of dead girls in the forest and hacking the computers of secret rich babies and eating large Italian meals with strange families. (Just kidding — can you imagine me in a forest!?)
For real, we need to talk about some things. With most of the attention tonight devoted to a refreshingly normal case of the week, I feel like it’s a good opportunity to step back, breathe, and evaluate what the hell has been going on the past few weeks. We’ve got a handful of totally absurd details about the big murder mystery night yet nothing concrete enough to form a workable theory: We’ve got Oliver and Connor entertaining the idea of jail; Laurel and Frank taking great steps toward a healthy relationship; and Michaela dating her third consecutive crazy person. And then there’s this thing Asher did at Trotter Lake, which dares to become more problematic than getting the notification that someone you haven’t talked to in three years tagged you in a photo.
The Night of the Fancy Mansion
Every series regular is now accounted for on the big murder night at the Hapstall house. Wes, Laurel, and Michaela have escaped into the woods, bringing a frantic, blood-soaked Connor with them; they’re picked up by policeman Nate, who then drops Michaela off to meet Caleb, inquiring about a mysterious “she.” An equally bloody Bonnie has fled the scene with Asher and driven to a gas station bathroom to tend to her blouse; when she returns to her car, Asher’s gone, presumably at the police station.
Tonight, we learn that Frank follows Annalise’s ambulance to the hospital (not the Marcia Gay Harden one, though) and performs a highly visible “Don’t let her die!” shrieking routine, ostensibly for his own version of an alibi. He then walks coolly and calmly to his car outside, where Catherine Hapstall’s body lays lifeless in the back seat. All of her skin and organs are intact — a qualifier I cannot believe I just had to write — but Frank proceeds to chuck her body in the woods, where she remains unconscious for the rest of the night before a police officer discovers her body (which appears to be splattered with someone else’s blood) the next morning. But surprise, bitches: she’s alive!
THEORIES: I always had some kind of working theory about who killed Sam and who killed Lila, but this year it almost seems foolish to even try and guess what the Fifth Harmony is going on at the Hapstall mansion. I have some vague observations, though. Who’s covered in blood? Bonnie, Catherine, and Connor. Who looks shaken up? Asher and Connor. Who’s strangely calm and possibly operating under a greater plan? Frank, Nate, and Caleb.
As to what actually happened, it’s a veritable game of Clue (Laurel in the Chipotle room with an iPad Mini?). Still, I’m confident in presenting my first officially crazy new theory for the season, which might explain what could have led to a bloody battle at the mansion, and it all has to do with…
Connor, Oliver & the Secret Baby!!!
Connor, Oliver & the Secret Baby
Tasked with determining other suspects in the Hapstall case, the Keating Five can’t come up with any targets except for Caleb and Catherine’s real birth parents, who they suspect might have killed the adoptive parents out of jealousy. Caleb and Catherine are vehemently opposed to that investigation, as is Michaela, who reveals a personal connection to the adoption struggle. (Laurel, meanwhile, thinks Caleb’s refusal to add another suspect suggests confidence in his own guilt.)
With no real leads to go off, the team brings in Ollie to do more pro bono work for them, and his helpful hacking uncovers a secret baby boy that Helena Hapstall — remember, she’s the dead racist aunt — had 26 years ago. Now he’s fully grown and ostensibly out to frame the twins and grab some Hapstall cash. Annalise plans to use the jury-baiting secret baby in court, but in a private moment, Oliver shows Connor he’s gone one step further: He’s found the guy, one Philip Jessup, who lives just 2 miles away…and at the very moment that Oliver and Connor are chatting glibly about the Hapstalls, we learn that Philip is hacking Oliver’s webcam! (Come on, Ollie — isn’t there a blinking light for that?)
Herein is my wacky, horrifying theory for this week: Philip will somehow find and kill Oliver (who, let’s remember, curiously wasn’t promoted to series regular this year), setting into motion a string of tragic events that force a distraught Connor to violently confront the crew at the Hapstall mansion. I haven’t yet decided who he’s targeting for the destruction the illegitimate Hapstall has wrought. Does he take out his rage on Annalise? Catherine? Sinclair? (P.S. Episode 8 is titled “Hi, I’m Philip,” so I’m pretty convinced I’m on something of a right track, though if I’m completely wrong please delete this recap.)
Asher, Bonnie, & Trotter Lake
It was only a matter of time before puppetmaster Annalise, not satisfied with controlling everyone else’s lives, would set Asher and Bonnie’s relationship as her next manipulation victim. Asher, having now glimpsed Bonnie’s tragic childhood, has been convinced not to testify against her, and Bonnie is left to believe that Asher came to this conclusion on his own. They awkwardly make up, in that classic rom-com “Remember when I almost sent you to jail for life!” kind of way. LOL! But obviously it’s only a matter of time before loose-lipped Asher blurts out what he learned, and I’m praying that Bonnie goes full rage against Annalise this time.
But while she temporarily puts a stopper in Millstone v. Winterbottom (as well as ADA Sinclair’s witch hunt against Goody Keating), Annalise pulls a wickedly shady move that once again sees her putting herself first. She strikes a deal with the prosecutor in the case of the week, getting her client’s charges dropped in exchange for delivering star-making dirt on Asher’s corrupt judge daddy. In the fallout, Asher’s now disgraced father cuts off ties with a confused and crestfallen Asher, and Sinclair takes it upon herself to let Bonnie know, girl to girl, what Asher did at Trotter Lake. The big reveal? Tiffany was gang-raped. More on that in a later episode, I guess. (Crazy theory: ADA Sinclair is related to Tiffany?)
The Case of the Week
Transparent’s Alexandra Billings guest stars this week as a fellow professor who kills her husband in self-defense — or at least that’s what she tells the police. In reality, she killed him to prevent his physical abuse, but the cops think she only murdered him because he found out she is transgendered. It’s unfortunately light on the pathos, but Annalise’s involvement in the case exists largely to illuminate all the things Jill did wrong in the homicide, i.e. how not to get away with murder. She fakes a witness, feigns a crime scene, and uses a landline. Ultimately Annalise gets her off (see: fallen Judge Millstone, above), but it’s nice to know there’s at least one other homicidal professor at Middleton University.
Other important highlights:
- Frank took a step forward in his sexy relationship with Laurel and introduced him to his big Italian family, which is actually the most normal family we’ve seen yet on the show. Could Flaurel be moving towards normalcy in their relationship? And dare I suggest that this increasingly happy road could only lead to inevitable tragedy in a midseason finale?
- Everyone’s been yelling at Wes for harping on Rebecca’s death, and in truth, he’s actually gotten pretty annoying about it all. Frank demands Annalise put a stop to it after Wes doesn’t buy the money-in-a-suitcase misdirect. Annalise, in her lowest lie yet, somehow makes Wes feel guilty about his mother’s suicide when he was a kid and suggests that he has female trust issues that are causing him to irrationally doubt Annalise. She leaves him with one last lie, a thoroughly unconvincing “No more secrets, but Rebecca definitely ran away and we for sure can’t find her and we’re super sorry about it but yeah she definitely is alive so we’re cool right?”
- Frank did in fact get Rebecca-in-a-body-bag from Bruno, and based on the juxtaposition with dumping Catherine’s body, Frank presumably buried Rebecca (and her now-disgusting wrinkled skin) in the woods.
- Nia, Nate’s wife, has died after Nate gives her the very pills that Annalise denied procuring. When Annalise finds out, she tries to be there for Nate (even baking a peach cobbler as peace offering, which is the shocking tenth time she’s cooked so far this season), but Nate rejects both cobbler and cobble-ee, resenting her for depriving him of his final few weeks with her because of that whole framing-you-for-murder thing. “I don’t hate you,” he tells Annalise, not even letting her into his apartment. “I just don’t care about you. I gave Nia those pills because I loved her, and I laid next to her in that bed, held her as she fell asleep, so close I could feel when she took her last breath. No one’s ever gonna love you that way.” Damn.
- Caleb asked Michaela out because Caleb is sketchy and Michaela only exclusively dates insane people.
- The T-shirt ready quotes “You’re all garbage,” “I have to go handle a bitch,” and “Juries love a secret baby.” (Be on the lookout for my Etsy store once I learn how to sew.)
What’s your theory? Dare you even have one? Let me know on Twitter!