By Maureen Lee Lenker
September 27, 2018 at 11:55 PM EDT
Mitch Haaseth/ABC
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Wedding bells are ringing!!! Or are they death knells? What — you thought Connor and Oliver’s wedding was going to be a happy bright spot in the lives of the Keating Four? That lasted for approximately one minute before it was revealed that the beloved couple’s nuptials will be the site of this season’s murder, mystery, and coveted flash forward.

Things are going well, Annalise is getting her groove on, but then there’s Frank, looking somber across the room. “Why do you look like someone just died?” she asks. Uh, Annalise, shouldn’t you know the answer to that question by now? It’s because someone just did. Frank doesn’t answer and Annalise slaps him.

But then we’re following someone stumbling through the snow, dripping blood. The camera is the person’s point of view, so we don’t know who it is, only that the stranger is out in the snowy woods surrounding the wedding venue and having trouble breathing before finally collapsing. The point of view abruptly shifts back to campus three months earlier to be that of… Gabriel Maddox, the mysterious “her kid” of the season 4 finale. This jump cut is clearly made to make us believe this is Maddox’s point of view in both instances, but it couldn’t be that easy, right?

Annalise is back on the top of her teaching game after winning her Supreme Court case. It’s an Advanced Trial Skills class, which she says is not really a class, but a sacrifice. Because a life lived with the intent of changing the world is one that is also brutal, mean, depressing, and ruthless. Normally, I would say Annalise is being dramatic, but have you watched the news lately?

Everyone wants a piece of Annalise and the course is over-enrolled, so instead of using the university’s registration system like a normal professor, she pits the students against each other in a contest to build a lab of potential topics for civil suits that could be more Supreme Court precedent-setting cases. Connor selects universal basic income; Michaela – the repeal of loitering and trespass laws because of their inherent racism; Asher – immigration; Laurel – education; and Gabriel Maddox, prison reform and the abolition of our current prison system. Since we know the Keating Four are all beating very specific drums tied to their own history, pretty safe to assume Mr. Maddox is as well, no?

Annalise attempts to put some distance between herself and the Keating Four, but it’s not them she needs to worry about. It’s Maddox – who follows her after class and informs her she’s the reason he transferred to Middleton. Want to elaborate bro?

But Annalise has bigger fish to fry – namely, what firm will be her new place of employment. She’s got a ton of offers on the table, including one with an insulting salary from Caplan & Gold (which whistleblower Tegan requests she not take) and several others offering everything from partner to unlimited resources to the chance to build her own team. She promises to mull over their offers and get back to them.

Bonnie is still working in the DA’s office for now interim DA, Ronald, a.k.a. Mister Swipe Right. She tells Nate she’s sticking around to try to find Denver’s files on them, and moments later, gives Annalise the same line in their favorite parking garage hang-out (that took, like, what 20 minutes?). Annalise wants to start a team with Bonnie defending the poor and taking down the man, but Bonnie is still running scared looking for those files. Annalise says she’s done with being scared. Later, Nate sticks up for Bonnie when Annalise brings him papers to sign for his father’s re-trial. But Nate probably isn’t really #TeamBonnie because he’s still poring over her file from Denver’s secret stash, obsessed with the note that says “Child Alive?” He even goes so far as to steal a coffee cup from Bonnie’s office to take to the lab for a DNA test against the results in her file.

The Keating Four are having relationship struggles. Michaela wants to text Marcus back in D.C. (Can Scandal live on here???), but struggles to appear breezy and casual. #Relatable. Eventually, she calls him and leaves him a painfully awkward message about being single and liking him. Meanwhile, Laurel is sleeping with Frank, but mostly cause he’s a great dad to Christopher and she’s grateful. Oliver comes over for pizza (but none for ICE informant Michaela) and brings in a mysterious package – Laurel’s baptismal gown. She assumes it must be from her mother, which means Sandrine is not dead…or so we’re supposed to think.

Back at class, students are competing for a space in Annalise’s class by making counter-arguments against their selected topics per her homework assignment. But class is cut short when Annalise is flooded with calls from the firms where she interviewed all suddenly rescinding her offers. Connor wants to talk to her about only being accepted back to school cause she called in a favor (to be fair, Frank told him that), but she talks him down. Typical Annalise, putting out her own life disaster fires while talking down everyone in her life’s insecurities. The emotional labor this woman does, yeesh…

It turns out all the firms are rescinding their offers because the governor is still butthurt about losing the Supreme Court case and has called all the firms suggesting they will put intense pressure and scrutiny on anyone who hires her. Which means she has to go crawling back to Caplan & Gold….

Frank is still doing recon on Gabriel Maddox, searching his criminal record online and finding snapshots of him playing college basketball. And he’s still making mysterious phone calls about the kid and insisting they not tell the mother about his reappearance. Laurel interrupts for her late-night booty call, but not before Frank suggests she baptize Christopher. Then everyone is getting. it. on. Laurel and Frank. Nate and hot lab tech. Bonnie wants a piece of the action, coming on to interim DA Ronald (HTGAWM writers, you couldn’t have given the guy a sexier name???) He wants her help with his speech, but she wants him to stop being her boss so they can actually start smooching.

Back in class, the reverse-engineered arguments continue and Maddox targets Annalise with emotion, saying people who commit murder are broken. He crosses the line and brings up her dead spouse (and maybe kid??) What do you know Gabriel?

Oliver has found a house for him, Connor, Michaela, and Laurel to move into (Connor thought it was a potential wedding venue — and I have never been more relieved to see him proved wrong). It’s cheap and has room for a nursery — he wants it to be their “village” for raising Laurel and Wes’ child. Oliver guilt trips Michaela into saying yes over Simon’s unknown whereabouts (a detention center or Pakistan). Later, they all move in and Michaela pledges a vow of fabstinence (fabulous abstinence) when Marcus blows her off via text. Ouch.

Frank brings Annalise a hefty file of background checks on her new students that she most definitely didn’t ask for. He doesn’t like Gabriel because he’s been lying to her — he’s a 2L and the class is only for third-year law students. He also sees her discarded job offers and urges her to start her own firm because she’s the “money” — and by money, he means metaphorical powerhouse of self-worth and bad-assery. Preach, Frank.

She doesn’t quite do that, but she does ask Caplan & Gold to underwrite her clinic. She refuses to accept less than she’s worth, getting up and walking out when they insist the job meeting is a “negotiation.” Go, Annalise, go! What woman hasn’t wished she could be you – certain of her own value and worth, unwilling to settle, walking out when she is disrespected. She almost gives in too, turning around for a brief moment in the parking lot, before her phone rings and they are calling to meet her terms. Later, she signs the deal, but not before they tell her only one partner believed in her and the deal — so now she’s got something to prove.

The clinic is officially funded, which means one student in her class at the end of the semester will get their tuition covered. Which is literally to kill for. I’m just saying the Keating Four have killed for a lot less than a year’s worth of tuition…She then makes her final selections and when one spot is left, both Asher and Gabriel Maddox are still in contention. She calls Maddox out on his lies but chooses him before leaving Asher out in the cold. Why? Because his cause — immigration — was only selected as a slap in Michaela’s face since he’s still mad she cheated. Annalise calls him a “people-pleasing” boy and a “clown,” and Asher looks like, well, the way an entitled rich boy looks when he gets called on his ish — which is to say PISSED.

Laurel tells Frank she’s moving out, and his bid to get her to stay is to get down on one knee and propose. She says no! Honestly, I feel super sorry for Frank — his dream girl doesn’t love him and he didn’t get into law school. Kinda hard for a guy to turn over a new leaf when you keep crunching the old leaf under your foot.

Taking a page straight out of The Godfather, the episode ends with Christopher’s baptism, as the priest reads off reams of language about rejecting Satan and the glamour of evil, while the camera lingers on the Keating Four, Bonnie, Annalise, and Frank. The irony is lost on no one. Annalise and Frank stand up as godparents (cause Frank is apparently being the bigger man here in spite of Laurel’s rejection of his proposal).

In the midst of this religious monologuing, we see Nate getting the DNA results — the coffee cup is a perfect match for the DNA results. “She’s the mother; he’s her son,” they tell him. And then the priest back at the baptism mentions something about Christ being crucified, only to rise from the dead, as we linger on a shot of Gabriel Maddox. Catholicism — never subtle, always effective.

The episode abruptly cuts from baby Christopher’s point of view in his baptism back to the near-death POV three months in the future. That’s because baby Christopher is out there in the snow crying in the wounded person’s field of vision. And oh snap, Bonnie is there too, reaching out to cover the mouth and eyes of the bleeding person before we cut to black.

What do you think HTGAWM fans? Is Annalise back on top of her game? What does Frank know and who is Gabriel’s mother? The puzzle pieces we have clearly want us to believe he’s Bonnie’s son, but I’m still not convinced the “child alive” note and references to someone rising from the dead aren’t actually hints that he’s Annalise’s child. Who is the figure bleeding out in the snow at the wedding? Maddox or someone else? And is Bonnie committing murder again? Her hands were already bloody and her actions didn’t exactly seem like she was trying to help. Sound off in the comments below or hit me up at @themaureenlee on Twitter.

Episode Recaps

Viola Davis stars as a law professor where she teaches, wait for it, how to get away with murder.
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  • 09/25/14
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