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'How to Get Away With Murder' recap: 'Hi, I'm Philip'

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Tony Rivetti/ABC

How to Get Away With Murder

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

So, I was right. And then I was wrong.

Oliver got a little too hack-happy and did in fact get kidnapped by the über-sketchy Philip, the geeky, socially stilted bastard Hapstall child who the Keating Company hopes has the matching DNA to link him to the Hapstall murder scene. BUT! While I thought Ollie’s abduction was the first of a series of unfortunate events that would lead to Connor’s undoing on the Night of the Fancy Mansion, the whole thing was…well, resolved relatively quickly.

Philip and his abductee, Oliver, surprise everyone by showing up at the Keating house unscathed and at precisely the moment they’re discussing Ollie’s kidnapping. Turns out, it wasn’t a kidnapping. He just wanted to talk! (This is coincidentally how all of my Tinder dates go.) (Also, if there was no kidnapping, then Connor and Oliver need to have a serious conversation about shutting the fridge door before leaving the apartment.)

Philip, now on the receiving end of about ten staring faces who think he’s a murderer, is as calm and collected as someone can be in such a bizarre situation. He explains he only made the fake gay profile when he knew he was being hacked — and as far as having any link to the dead Hapstall parents? Philip swears his birth parents live in Iowa and he bears no relation to the rich folks. So, Annalise asks him what he wants. His answer is a shrug and an “I don’t know yet,” almost as noncommittal and disinterested as when you have to choose the “Netflix” part of “Netflix and chill.” And so Philip just leaves, taking with him the threat of about two-dozen criminal charges he could potentially press.

Naturally, a team of lawyers (and whatever the f— Frank is) launch into damage-control mode: Connor destroys Oliver’s computer, Nate tails Philip (to, womp, a boring delivery job), and Frank rushes to the hospital to get a DNA test that’ll link Philip to his birth parents and place him at the crime scene before any charges can be pressed.

It’s a tense waiting game, made worse by the Desolation of Sinclair and the great plea deal of 2015.

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DA Sinclair, who remains probably the worst TV guest star this season (and that includes three of the recurring bones on Bones), has managed to throw a tempting bone to the Hapstalls in the form of a plea-deal offer. Not much progress has been made in their case lately, and Caleb and Catherine are feeling the strain of the velocity shift. Silence can’t be a good thing in a murder case, right? They’re seduced by the idea of ending it all, and can you blame them? A plea deal means no more public scrutiny, some light time in jail (which, thanks to Orange Is the New Black, kind of looks like fun!), and a triumphant emergence from the other side like a British songstress crooning “hello.”

Annalise wants nothing to do with this plea deal, so she enlists Michaela and Wes to talk sense into the Hapstalls. Michaela tries to convince Caleb not to take it, but reckless, useless, predictably counterproductive Wes advises Catherine to accept it.

NEXT: The time on the plea deal is ticking…


The time on the plea deal is ticking, and neither sibling is convinced one way or another, so Annalise makes a different move: She allows the plea deal to expire before they can make a decision. How? Asher has stumbled onto the discovery that Sinclair tapped the Keating house, which he realizes after Sinclair dumps 300 sudden DNA-testing requests at the hospital’s…I don’t know, DNA department? It’s slowing down Philip’s DNA test, which leads Asher to believe that Sinclair has bugged them and purposely backlogged the hospital. So, Annalise and friends fake a conversation in front of Sinclair’s hidden pen bug that impels the DA to chase a fake lead in search of a murder weapon hidden in the basement of the Hapstall house. Sinclair finds nothing, and Annalise smugly runs out the clock and saves the day — or at least, staves the deal.

Until Catherine arrives at Sinclair’s office with her own plea. She wants 10 years in jail and Caleb goes free. WHY, BOO!? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?! Catherine won’t hear reason and is so stubbornly in favor of the idea, she even goes to court to accept it. But Frank, in the nick of time, gives Annalise the DNA results that not only place Philip at the crime scene, but also link him as the incestuous baby of Helena (the dead racist aunt) and Grant (the dead incestuous Hapstall parent). There’s location and motive.

With a new culprit to pin it on, Catherine exhales, something she was waiting to do, and rejects the plea. But here’s where I get a bit confused: In the moment, it seems like Catherine’s relieved that the target is off her back, right? Philip’s DNA is a match, and he’ll get charged for this murder instead of her, right? But as we learn at the episode’s end, Catherine and Philip (whom she previously denied knowing) are actually in secret cahoots! So her breath of relief can’t be completely free of stress — not if her mysterious accomplice Philip is in on it!

We, the audience, see Catherine and Philip meet in a car, but Wes makes his own deduction when he notices one of Catherine’s paintings in the back of Philip’s photos. Now, we need to talk about Catherine’s art for a second. I use the word “art” loosely, as a second-grader’s macaroni-shell picture frame is technically “art,” as are the doodles you make on post-it notes during important phone calls or the stupid sculptures you create when you rip a Styrofoam cup. Under this definition, “art” can be used to describe Catherine’s deranged watercolor portraits of the people in her life. If you want to see the mark of a true crazy person, find out if they have a painting room and then find out if they paint quasi-realistic versions of their lawyers and acquaintances at young ages. If her sick gouache fetish wasn’t bad enough, Catherine has clearly lived a blessed life where nobody ever told her they don’t want to receive her shitty artwork as a gift, so Wes, who made the mistake of being kind to her, receives a portrait OF HIS FAMILY WHO WE’VE NEVER MET, and not even recently! Catherine painted baby Wes and, ostensibly, his mother and father, in the kind of bizarre, WTF, why-would-you-do-this moment that demands a reevaluation of everything we know about Catherine and Wes’s family (you Annalise-is-Wes’-mother truthers are going to have a field day with this one). I’m sorry for going off the deep end on this, but I really, really hate Catherine’s paintings, and I think she killed her parents, and Wes’s family deserves better, and modern art is just awful.

Anyway, Philip and Catherine are together plotting, and Caleb has trusted Michaela enough to show her a gun he found stashed behind a vent cover. “What if she killed them?” he asks, and at this point I’m willing to believe that Caleb is innocent and Catherine almost definitely killed the Hapstall parents. After all, next week is the midseason finale, and if this Hapstall case stretches through then, I’ll be colder than the burrito bowl Lila left out the night she died.

I’ll go out with a theory here: Philip and Catherine are not only after their inheritance, but they’ve also teamed up in the past to use Philip’s hacking and Catherine’s Blick membership to kill others for sport and then paint their blood into mounted portraits. They’re like a serial killing Bonnie and Clyde with less bank robberies and more Warcraft.

For real, though, I have a better theory, and it’s probably going to piss you off.

Who shot Annalise? Everyone did.

NEXT: Who shot Annalise? And why is everyone so horny again?[pagebreak]

First, let’s examine the new details about the Night of the Fancy Mansion: Last week, we saw Connor and Michaela on the verge of leaving the house and Wes and Laurel trying to stop them when Bonnie suddenly pushes DA Sinclair off the balcony (proving yet again that Bonnie is us and we are her). Now, all four kids of Murder, Inc. are forced back in the house, where Bonnie confronts Connor about some decision that’s been made and how it’s “already agreed” and “either get on board or you’re the next dead body out there.” She demands Wes give him the gun, and though no real discernible clues are dropped, at least we have learned one thing: this is what it’s like when Bonnie’s in charge on a murder night.

So, since next week is the midseason finale wherein we’ll find out who shot Annalise, I think it’s helpful to lay out where everyone ended up this week before we move into the big finale.

ANNALISE: She’s reconciled and once again hooking up with the herculean, chiseled Nate, putting the glad in that gladiator. She also realized she made a mistake by sharing Bonnie’s past with Asher, and she’s paying the price for it, trying in vain to call Bonnie. But she’s never been more at odds with DA Sinclair, and she’s also the likely first target when Philip tells Catherine “I’ll take care of it.” Not sure just what that means, but people are coming for Annalise, to be sure.

BONNIE: She won’t talk to Asher, and in fact, she won’t talk to anyone. She’s MIA, holing up in her luxurious shower and crying her feelings out to the smooth scent of Garnier Fructis. It’s possible that Bonnie’s appearance on the Night of the Fancy Mansion is in some ways a bold re-emergence to save the day, likely since Annalise will never need Bonnie’s help more than when she’s immobile on a carpet clutching the bullet hole in her torso.

CONNOR: After Ollie’s kidnapping scare, he realizes that perhaps the answer to saving their relationship is…more sex. So they have sex in a classroom. Great. Connor still looks pretty disturbed on Murder Night, but at least we can assume that it’s not because of Oliver’s dead body or anything like that.

FRANK & LAUREL: Annalise’s “new Bonnie” is officially doing the domestic thing with Frank, and they’re heading slowly toward as happy an ending as this show can afford. Neither seems to have much motive in the Fancy Mansion.

ASHER: He’s still on the outs with Bonnie, yet winds up in a car with her on Murder Night…before winding up in the police station.

MICHAELA: She’s earned Caleb’s trust and has direct reason to believe that Catherine’s guilty. She also seeks Caleb out immediately following the events at the mansion on Murder Night, as if they’d already planned to meet on the occasion.

WES: He’s got the gun in hand and the cloth to avoid fingerprints. So, did he do the shooting? Or did he pick up the gun in the aftermath?

On Murder Night, Bonnie pushes Sinclair off the balcony and says “it’s already agreed.” Wes has a gun. Frank has Catherine’s unconscious body in his car. Nate picks the kids up. Michaela goes to Caleb’s house. Everyone has been frantic, sure, but have you noticed what they haven’t been? Confused. They’ve been panicked and they’ve been pressed for time, but don’t mistake that with the horror of unpredictability. Everyone has been rushing and working against a clock, as if some predetermined plans have been set into place before one trigger went off and set it all into motion.

And so my theory is this: Annalise has sacrificed herself for the sake of the minor victory of killing Sinclair and the more major victory of locking up Catherine and Philip, who have far too much information on the Keating firm for them to go to jail cleanly without bringing the entire Keating firm down with them. Michaela has found the murder weapon and it’s a matter of time before Annalise discovers Catherine and Philip’s guilt — but how can she nail them without bringing the legal system into it?

I think Annalise ordered one of the kids to shoot her and run. Maybe it’s Wes, which would bookend his season-long resentment of Annalise and finally shake up their dynamic once more. Maybe it’s Connor, who was bold enough to fire the bullet but perhaps too fragile to leave her side once the blood started to pour. Maybe it’s even Michaela or Laurel, though the clues on Murder Night haven’t suggested as much.

The whole Night of the Fancy Mansion is a staged scene that will find Catherine and Philip implicated in the attempted murders of the two lawyers at the center of the Hapstall case. And since Sinclair (who perhaps was also on the verge of discovering Catherine’s guilt) needed to die anyway, it’s kind of like killing two birds with one pantsuit. And there’s more! Why are Frank, Nate, and Bonnie so readily mobile? Why does Caleb not seem surprised to see Michaela at his doorstep? And, perhaps the final piece of the pre-planned puzzle: It explains why Asher’s at the police station that night, to call the whole damn thing in.

Think about it. It’s the ultimate lesson in how to get away with murder and the fourth element of Annalise’s step-by-step guide: Become the victim yourself.

That’s where I’ll leave you this week. Am I insane? Idiotic? Somewhere in between? Share YOUR craziest theory, let me know if you’re on board with mine, and feel free to discuss whether Annalise is Wes’ mother in the interim.