We gave it an A-
This week on How to Get Away With Murder, it’s time for a deep dive into one of the most twisted, toxic, codependent, mysterious relationships on the show: the love-hate saga of Bonnie and Annalise.
Bonnie is running in a rainstorm, clearly distraught. She runs to Isaac’s door late at night, needing desperately to see him. And we learn very quickly what it is that’s troubling her — Annalise. She’s told Isaac that the woman in question is named May, but we all know it’s Annalise because (a) her real name is Anna May and (b) who else would cause Bonnie this much angst?
Bonnie tells Isaac that she saw May that night and admits that she started seeing Isaac not to get better, but to hurt
Annalise May. As they talk, Bonnie begins to pour out her emotions — her confusion over whether she made up the similarities between them, her desire to be the child Annalise so desperately wanted. She wants Isaac to justify her sense of betrayal and desire to hurt Annalise. Instead, he pushes her to recollect good memories from their time together, insisting the only way for her to get better and move on is for her to admit she loves May/Annalise. She finally gives in and starts to sob, “I love her,” while remembering some of the highs and lows she and Annalise shared over the years.
And some of those moments are new to us because for the first time, we see how Annalise and Bonnie met. Yes, Annalise knew Bonnie was abused and raped as a child, but it wasn’t because she was representing her — the opposite, in fact. In 2002, a city councilman is on trial for rape; Annalise is his lawyer, but Bonnie is the key witness in the case against him. Her father was a janitor at City Hall and would leave her in the basement for the councilman to visit her. The abuse only stopped because — you ready for this? — Bonnie got pregnant when she was 15. And she never knew what happened to the baby. She passed out during labor, and when she woke up, her father told her the baby was dead. PAUSE. Anyone else think this sounds suspiciously like the situation one Miss Laurel Castillo finds herself in during the flash forwards? Is it possible Bonnie used her own abuser’s tactics to gaslight Laurel out of her baby?
Okay, pause button off — back in 2002, the defense team pushes Annalise to go after Bonnie in the courtroom and the cross-examination. If she succeeds, they’ll recommend to the board at their firm that she be named a full partner. She agrees, but back at home, where Sam is still alive (welcome back Tom Verica; it’s good to see your face) and injecting her with hormones in their quest to get pregnant, it’s clear she has misgivings. Sam urges her to reconsider and do the right thing, especially given her own past, but her ambition wins out.
She cross-examines Bonnie and pulls out every victim-blaming tactic in the book: Why didn’t Bonnie come forward sooner? How can she be sure the councilman was the man who raped her since she was raped by literally dozens of men? (At this point it’s sort of a miracle Bonnie isn’t a total sociopath considering the trauma she’s suffered.) Bonnie, as we well know, is no shrinking violet, and she insists her father threatened to murder her if she said anything. But Annalise has a reputation to uphold (and a job to win), so she pushes harder on the possibility that Bonnie has false memories, even suggesting it’s possible Bonnie had a hysterical pregnancy. (Again, is this meant to be a clue to Laurel’s situation?)
Bonnie holds her own, but later that night we see Annalise drinking in disgust because she won the case — and promptly quit her job. Sam is proud of her, and she tells him she wants to help Bonnie. Cue: the inciting incident of their relationship. Annalise approaches Bonnie at her home, tells her she quit her job because “it was despicable what I did to you,” and offers to take Bonnie in and help her become a lawyer. It’s a noble idea, but knowing what we know now, part of me wants to scream at Bonnie to just stick to waitressing and stay far away from Annalise, Sam, and the carnival of horrors they bring with them.
Back in the present day, Annalise is still working to assemble the necessary 40 clients for her class action lawsuit. And Bonnie is hot on her tail, digging through Cross’ case files and noticing with dismay that many of Cross’ former clients now have “attorney pending” listed next to their name in the system. Annalise is fighting the good fight, though, and talking the talk, convincing inmates that this is their chance to clear their name, take on the system, and a litany of other clichés that belong in an early ’90s film starring Tom Cruise as a cocky but well-intentioned lawyer.
Bonnie wants to prove that Annalise is going after Cross’ clients, so she sends Nate to the prison to do her dirty work, but he’s still Annalise’s man through and through because when he sees Annalise in prison, he seems to believe her reasons for her secrecy. He later lies to Bonnie, telling her there’s no evidence Annalise has visited the prison in weeks. Not satisfied by this report, she decides to take matters into her own hands and visit the jail, only to find it’s as Nate said: Annalise is not in the visitor logs and the guards haven’t seen her.
But this is a lie, because at that very moment Annalise is in a visitor’s room talking to another former cellmate, Claudia (the one she provoked into beating her up), trying to convince her to join the suit. It works, and Claudia calls her to say that she and 15 other fellow inmates are signing on to the suit. Cue Annalise dancing .gifs. She has the requisite 40 she needs!
But Annalise’s joy is short lived. Inmates immediately start calling to withdraw from the suit because the ADA made them a better offer. It turns out Bonnie proved her theory with security camera footage and met with all of the potential clients to sabotage Annalise by offering them better deals and scaring them away from the lawsuit.
This leads to another parking lot confrontation between the two of them, but this time Annalise gives Bonnie a verbal lashing rather than a physical one. She was trying to do something good for once, but Bonnie throws it back in her face insisting, she only ever helped her because of her guilt; then she threw Bonnie out like an intern when she failed to become who Annalise wanted her to be. But Annalise wants her to understand she cut her loose because Bonnie doesn’t (and maybe never did) need her, not because she thought she was nothing. This sends Bonnie running out into the rain and to Isaac’s couch, taking us full circle to where we began this episode. (Recap continues on page 2)